No Walls and the Recurring Dream
Whether you know her music or not, Ani Difranco’s memoir No Walls and the Recurring Dream is a compelling read. For those who’ve been listening to her for years, like me, it is an intimate look at someone you may think you know—from her music—but you really don’t.
Growing up in a house without walls shaped folksinger Ani DiFranco in ways she has examined in her music for years. It made her vulnerable, watchful, and at times anxious, but it also gave her a front-row seat to the spectacle of her parents’ marriage and an unshakeable understanding of herself. Her own relationships with men early on and then with women later are lenses through which she views the world, and those lenses skew emotional, political, and spiritual at different turns along her journey.
Readers who expect page after page of epiphany will be disappointed; this isn’t that kind of book. Rather it is the soul of the writer laid bare as it formed. DiFranco starts in childhood and ends just shy of the life she lives now, happily married to a man she’s known for years, mother to two children, still fighting the good folky fight. She doesn’t tell you exactly how the happy ending came to be, but that’s always been the point of her work. She leaves you wanting more, so when you finish No Walls and the Recurring Dream you’re ready to start over with her.
After editing at City Book Review for a few years, I took up the duties of editorial assistant, which include assigning books for review, posting reviews to our various sites, and nagging reviewers for things. In my non-nagging time, I’m a gamer, artist, writer, and notorious black thumb/bane of plants. My answer to every book-related question: read Octavia Butler.
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