The Art of Asking is as much about the modern music business, the value of art and a guide to surviving the internet as it is about Amanda Palmer, her cabaret punk band or her world touring tendencies. A memoir inspired by a TED talk* she gave following her triumph in the world of crowdsourcing, a twelve minute (ahem, thirteen) talk on the Art of Asking in the world of performance turned into an ode to asking in an assortment of relationships, not least the one she has with writer husband, Neil Gaiman.
While initially feeling idiosyncratic in style, Amanda seemed to take root in my mind by the third chapter and when later in the book she suffers some disappointment while trying to trust the world I felt that too. We see her transform from a college grad with more bravado than recommended and a job as a human statue to a woman putting her faith in her crowd, but also dealing with the ramifications of not pleasing everyone in an age when the internet is full of anonymity with the ability to say quite literally anything. While you may not always agree with Amanda’s actions or words I think she does really highlight how terrifying it can be to be vilified online and how despite having a crowd of ardent and 99% fantastic fans the internet can turn very dark very quickly.
Her references to the ‘Fraud Police’, the ones who live in your head and basically call you out on your existence and purpose felt like an acknowledgement to the world that people are mean to themselves and therefore it is our jobs to be nice to each other. As she would say; ‘I see you. You are real.’
I didn’t know much about Amanda Palmer before reading the book but it really did not matter, even without an interest in her music this book is fascinating and features some pretty inspiring characters and stories.
In other news, I wish to be friends with her and own a ukulele.
These may be side effects of the book.
* Watch this. No really. WATCH THIS.
It is really interesting and a great precursor to the book which you will of course want to read :]
(another review of this book can be found here)