Summary and book reviews of Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Sounds Like Titanic

A Memoir

by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Sounds Like Titanic by  Jessica Chiccehitto  Hindman X
Sounds Like Titanic by  Jessica Chiccehitto  Hindman
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2019, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 11, 2020, 256 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

A young woman leaves Appalachia for life as a classical musician--or so she thinks.

When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group "performs," the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she "plays" for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake.

Sounds Like Titanic is a surreal, often hilarious coming-of-age story. Hindman writes with precise, candid prose and sharp insight into ambition and gender, especially when it comes to the difficulties young women face in a world that views them as silly, shallow, and stupid. As the story swells to a crescendo, it gives voice to the anxieties and illusions of a generation of women, and reveals the failed promises of a nation that takes comfort in false realities.

True Life
New York City, Spring 2004

Your internship ends at the company that is not the New York Times. You are still hoping to find a permanent job or at least a paid internship that has something to do with the Middle East or the two bloody wars your country is in the process of losing. But you cannot find anything. So you sign the contract to go on the God Bless America Tour, thinking that, among other things, the tour will be a way for you to earn enough money to ship yourself off to Baghdad or Beirut or Jerusalem or Cairo to work as a freelance reporter.

A few months before the tour starts, a college friend calls you out of the blue to offer you a well- paid temporary research job at MTV. You don't even need to interview, you just show up. For the first time since you moved to New York, you experience what it's like to be given a job that you aren't even remotely qualified for, because you know the right person, because you went to the right college. You know nothing about ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What is Jessica's relationship with playing the violin? Does she see playing the violin as something different from being a violinist? What is the traditional trajectory to become a classical violinist? How does the author see her own experience playing with The Composer versus being an "actual" professional violinist?
  2. Endemic to the narrative is the strange relationship between reality and fantasy, of authenticity and make-believe. How do these dichotomies manifest themselves in Jessica's journey? How does she navigate between what's real and what's smoke and mirrors? Does she see parallels between her own experiences—in college, New York, abroad, and on the road—and what her audiences experience?
  3. What are the ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Reading this book, I felt I was in the hands of someone wise, honest and very real (Joan R). Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman might not be a great violinist, but she's a very entertaining writer. Her humor engaged me from the start (Nanette C). This book was very well written, with deep insights into growing up a self-avowed "average" person who thought she could work herself into being gifted (Judy K)...continued

Full Review (676 words).

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Media Reviews

Booklist
Far-reaching, insightful, and unputdownable.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Like the most discerning members of the audiences for whom Hindman played, readers may be left wondering what's really real - and how it matters. A tricky, unnerving, consistently fascinating memoir.

Author Blurb Caitlin Doughty, bestselling author of From Here to Eternity and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Sounds Like Titanic would be unbelievable as a novel, but as a memoir it is deliciously bizarre and utterly American. It's a Coen Brothers movie come to life--Ruby Tuesday, QVC, and one woman working for years as a fake violinist for classical music's version of Thomas Kinkade. I couldn't put it down.

Author Blurb Angela Palm, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize for Riverine
Hindman is an emissary for a generation, repurposing its sarcasm and irony in a nuanced, humorous, and intelligent look at what it means to construct and consume fake realities in post-9/11 America.

Author Blurb Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun
An evocative portrait of America's literal and figurative landscapes, an incisive look at class and gender, and an examination of what authenticity means.

Author Blurb Tom Bissell, author of Apostle and coauthor of The Disaster Artist
It's difficult to write a funny, angry book. It's even harder to write a merciless, empathetic book. But here comes Jessica Hindman, doing the impossible with a funny, angry, merciless, empathetic book that's not only a hugely entertaining memoir, but an insightful meditation on a time in our nation's recent history whose strange and ominous influence grows more apparent by the day.

Reader Reviews

Charlene M. (Myrtle Beach, SC)

Memoir
As a teen growing up in the 60's I was surprised by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman's description of her 90's experience as a teen. The pressure of a new age of woman's freedoms. Sounds Like Titanic, a Memoir is humorous - The Composer & his many foibles...   Read More

Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)

Best kind of memoir
What a captivating read! Glad the violin/Middle East thing didn't work out so well, for Ms Hindman is certainly a gifted writer. The non-linear telling of her story was well done from my perspective and the repetitive tour notes made it feel probably...   Read More

Marjorie H. (Woodstock, GA)

Unreal
"Truth is stranger than fiction" and this story proves that you can't script this kind of writing. Reality/unreality that can drive a person truly crazy is right here. I'm still having to go back and check a few things. The idea that you take ...   Read More

Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)

Bright Lights, No Filter
Bright Lights; No Filter. Jessica Hindman leaves Appalachia for the big city and in a very short period of time starts to see Culture. That kind, yes, but also the big one: her studies in middle east history and politics as well as small town America...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Student Debt

Students protesting education debt In Sounds Like Titanic, author Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman recalls the extreme lengths she went to in order to fund her education, including selling her eggs and touring the country with a crooked classical music composer. The price of tuition for a 4-year private college in the United States was, on average, $34,740 for the 2017-2018 school year. For the same year, public universities charged an average of $9,970/year for state residents and $25,620 for out-of-state students. Room and board can easily add an additional $10,000+ per year. Many college students take out loans to pay for tuition; roughly 70% of college graduates leave school in debt and the average sum of this debt is $28,446, meaning they graduate from college and begin ...

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