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"So Real It Hurts is the perfect title for this collection. It's a mission statement. A few bleeding slices straight from the butcher shop. A sampler from an enormous archive of work that will, no doubt, be pored over by grad students, book lovers, film historians, music nerds and straight-up perverts a hundred years from now." —Anthony Bourdain, from the Introduction
Through personal essays and interviews, punk musician and cultural icon Lydia Lunch claws and rakes at the reader's conscience in this powerful, uninhibited feminist collection. Oscillating between provocative celebrations of her own defiant nature and nearly-tender ruminations on the debilitating effects of poverty, abuse, and environmental pollution, along with a visceral revenge fantasy against misogynistic men, Lydia Lunch presents her exploits without apology, daring the reader to judge her while she details the traumas and trials that have shaped her into the legendary figure she's become.
Inserted between these biting personal essays, Lunch thoughtful cultural insights convey a widely-shared desire to forestall inevitable cultural amnesia and solidify a legacy for her predecessors and peers. Her interview with Hubert Selby Jr. and profile of Herbert Hunke, her short unromanticized histories of No Wave and of the late Sixties, and her scathing examination of the monetization of counterculture (thanks, Vivienne Westwood!) all serve to reinforce the notion that, while it may appear that there are no more heroes, we are actually just looking for heroes in the wrong places. The worthy idols of the past have been obscured by more profitable historical narratives, but Lunch challenges us to dig deeper.
So Real It Hurts pulls the reader into a world that is entirely hers — one in which she exacts vengeance against predators with an enviable ease and exerts an almost-sexual dominance over authority, never permitting those with power to hold on to it too tightly.
About the Author
Hailed by Time Out as "one of the greatest New York performers of all time," Lydia Lunch defies categorization. Few contemporary artists have forged a unique and varied artistic vision as successfully, or forcibly, during her long and notorious career. Since bursting onto the late 1970's New York City music scene at the age of 16 with her band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Lunch has released over two hundred music recordings, either as a solo artist, in collaborations, or as guest artist. The poster-girl for the Whitney Museum of Art's Underground Film Festival, she has appeared in more than fifty films, including the infamous, gut-wrenching films of director Richard Kern, with whom she worked in the 1980s. As a writer, she has published numerous works of literature, such as her 2007 novel Paradoxia (Akashic), which has been translated into 12 languages. Lunch continues to record and tour the world with numerous music and spoken word projects,film work, and art exhibitions, and is the subject of "Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over," a forthcoming feature documentary by acclaimed underground filmmaker Beth B.
"Lunch holds nothing back, providing rebellious, raunchy personal stories, scorching perspectives on the notion of mandatory motherhood, a purging glimpse at the nightmare of insomnia, and other themes. Amid these punchy personal revelations, the author layers honed essays with a broader scope. . . [It] seethes with the kind of urgency that reflects Lunch at her strongest. Lunch fans will enjoy her unleashed musings and the healthy rage that abound in these fierce essays." —Kirkus Reviews
"So Real It Hurts proves that more than 40 years into her career, [Lydia Lunch]'s lost none of her blistering anger and astringent eloquence. . . This slim collection of potent essays, profane rants and astute cultural critiques sometimes reads like the writings of a hypnotic Beat poet. . . they are confrontational, confessional, electrifying and unforgettable." —Shelf Awareness
"Lunch’s work is defiant, thrilling and unflinching. Her latest release, So Real It Hurts, is just so: an anthology of new and established writings that include everything from violent feminist revenge fantasies to diatribes on pollution and politics (and yes, Trump) in the Anthropocene epoch. . . [Her] sense of humour is dark, delightful and revelatory." —The Guardian
"A feminist-anarchist manifesto that documents and critiques the modern age with a caustic, deliciously poisonous humor. . . In every essay, Lunch’s unique voice and militant perspective shine through—we live in a dire age, and she turns her lens on America and the world with a pen as raucous and painfully aware as its holder." —i-D, VICE
"The collection is personal, it’s political, it’s self-indulgent, it’s empathic, it’s wise, its funny. It’s totally Lydia.” —The Pittsburgh Current
"Her prose is incantatory—a point is made, made again, sharpened, and stabbed. She delivers dark sermons of death, perversity, and need with relish. . . So Real It Hurts makes it obvious that Lunch has always been more than a heckler. She is a journalist at heart, a documentarian of the darkest impulses, unafraid to catalogue ugliness, to be ugly, and to mock." —Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Lunch most definitely still works her dark magic via humour, horror and healing. . . It’s a full-on predatory psychic attack." —Dazed
"Lydia Lunch is a legend unlike any other. The performance artist, writer and musician is a firework unto herself. . . she has an uncanny ability to fuse words together like bullets. She doesn’t hold back. She’s the author of over ten books and she’s now releasing So Real It Hurts, a collection of essays published with Seven Stories Press, which includes 20 essays from diaristic rants to political scribes, with an introduction written by Anthony Bourdain.” —The Face
"Calling the writing of Lydia Lunch 'transgressive fiction' falls way short of effectively categorizing the brutal, raw, obscene and honest words she bleeds. She has created her own genre of nonfiction and at present is its sole inhabitant." —Michael Imperioli, actor and author of The Perfume Burned His Eyes
"Lydia Lunch’s utterly sane visionary madness goes right to the rotten core.” —Mark Cunningham, musician (Mars and Blood Quartet)