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Horror Stories

A Memoir
By: Liz Phair
Narrated by: Liz Phair
Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
4 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville traces her life and career in a genre-bending memoir in stories about the pivotal moments that haunt her.

When Liz Phair shook things up with her musical debut, Exile in Guyville - making her as much a cultural figure as a feminist pioneer and rock star - her raw candor, uncompromising authenticity, and deft storytelling inspired a legion of critics, songwriters, musicians, and fans alike. Now, like a Gen X Patti Smith, Liz Phair reflects on the path she has taken in these piercing essays that reveal the indelible memories that have stayed with her.

For Phair, horror is in the eye of the beholder - in the often unrecognized universal experiences of daily pain, guilt, and fear that make up our humanity. Illuminating despair with hope and consolation, tempering it all with her signature wit, Horror Stories is immersive, taking listeners inside the most intimate junctures of Phair’s life, from facing her own bad behavior and the repercussions of betraying her fundamental values, to watching her beloved grandmother inevitably fade, to undergoing the beauty of childbirth while being hit up for an autograph by the anesthesiologist.

Horror Stories is a literary accomplishment that reads like the confessions of a friend. It gathers up all of our isolated shames and draws them out into the light, uniting us in our shared imperfection, our uncertainty and our cowardice, smashing the stigma of not being in control. But most importantly, the uncompromising precision and candor of Horror Stories transforms these deeply personal experiences into tales about each and every one of us.

Musical interludes composed and performed by Liz Phair.

Advance praise for Horror Stories

"Liz Phair’s songwriting has always had the rare quality of being short-story-like. Damn good short stories, too. Horror Stories has that unique Liz Phair ability to make you look at something you’d rather not, but once you do you’re glad you did - like any form of honest art. This is why Liz Phair still is, and always will be, a threat." (Ben Folds)

©2019 Liz Phair (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Liz Phair’s Horror Stories is a deeply personal narrative about a ground-breaking musician’s intense love affair with life, with all its turbulent highs and lows. It is also about those things that have sustained Phair since childhood: the wonder and healing power of nature, music, and family. A compelling blend of riveting prose and soaring lyricism, Horror Stories is as enthralling and as addictive as Phair's music." (Mira Bartók, New York Times best-selling author of The Memory Palace, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award)

"Horror Stories is a collection of turning points, plucked free of ongoing time and their original settings. Gathered, they sparkle eerily, expanding to occupy an entire remembered year - maybe even an entire remembered self." (Sarah Manguso)

"Horror Stories cracks open the idea of fear itself to see what's inside. Liz Phair’s stories are heartbreaking and inspiring, galvanizing and contemplative. This memoir is as much about the poignant luminosity of the subjects upon which Phair fixes her gaze as it is about the darkness she shows us. Witnessing her examine the moments that have stayed with her over the years is captivating: a literary triumph by a musical icon." (Lily Brooks-Dalton, author of Good Morning, Midnight)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

I am a big Liz Phair music fan so I was excited to read (listen to) this! It is not like a typical memoir with a life story, but different meaningful points of her life that were scary or sad or times of change. The stories were very captivating. We all have those bad memories that stick with us and make us feel awkward or sad. Her writing is amazing. You feel like you are going through everything with her.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Even better than I expected<br />

Liz Phair is a gifted storyteller. I expected a mostly behind the scenes memoir of her rocker life, and there is plenty about the music business and life on the road, but it is her insights on a range of her life experiences that are the most rewarding. Every man and boy needs to read her "hashtag" chapter on her own me to experiences and every woman should read it so they don't feel alone or don't unwittingly succumb to the exploitation. It's the best memoir I've ever read. She narrates it which just makes it all the more personal and authentic. Thanks Liz!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

If you want to know about Liz Phair’s musical career, you’ll be disappointed.

I am a long-time fan of Liz Phair’s music and was really excited to hear this. But there are about two sentences that given insight into that (literally), nothing more. There’s nothing about her trying to find her sound, recording any of her albums, or her development as an artist. There are some stories that revolve around performances, but the shows are very much in the background. I’m really disappointed.

The most generous thing I can say is that this book is about finding the beauty and meaning in the mundane. Phair does that well. She knows how to tell a story. But her narrative position is that her experiences are somehow more interesting because they happened to her and they aren’t. Everyone has had a grandparent die or misunderstood a culture. Everyone has been cheated on and gaslit.

I suppose if she had written from the perspective of the “every woman” she could have done more to identify the universality in her experience. That could have been interesting. But instead, you get the sense that she is completely unaware of the privilege with which she was raised. I don’t mean she hasn’t earned her place in the rock ‘n’ roll pantheon. She has and I will continue to love her music. But since she has chosen to only discuss personal vignettes she leaves all of that aside and we have to take her interestingness on faith. I al unconvinced.

If you enjoy personal essays about day to day life, you’ll like this book. If you want insight into art, creativity, and the nature of being an artist, this is not the book for you.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Honest, Raw, Inspiring, hopefully Book

I love it I have to say that right off the bat. I wasn’t sure what I would think but I am a fan of hers so I thought let me give it a chance. I think the book is very honest she takes you to private thoughts and events it made me recall childhood memories long forgotten from listening to her book. It takes you through life events but with such careful accuracy it’s kind of incredible. I think a fan or not quite a fan will enjoy listening to her and her life accounts.
Just buy it already
Enjoy.

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Ugh

Growing up in Chicago during the same time as Liz... even having the same Rainbo photo booth photos- I’ve loved everyone of her albums. As a writer myself, I couldn’t make it though the chapters... it was so boring. She’s got another book in her for sure. If she says if she died tomorrow is she doing her best work with this book? Uh... no. I can’t wait for the real story of her life. The clock is ticking for all of us. A true fan who just wants more. 💔

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I love Liz Phair

I have loved Liz Phair since college when I first started listening to her first two albums relentlessly.

I finally saw her in concert this year and loved it.

2 of 17 people found this review helpful