Saturday, March 05, 2005


The Tori book Piece by Piece ended up becoming a bit of a letdown. It's not really a biography so much as a collection of interviews conducted and edited by music critic Ann Powers. The format became very problematic for me; often times I felt excluded from the finer details that really should have been explored. For example, the book does an excellent job in covering Tori's difficulties in having a child. This pain is communicated very well, but then we're cheated a bit by not getting a moment of her daughter Natasya's birth.

All the way through I kept comptrasting it with the recent Anthony Kiedis bio, Scar Tissue. Kiedis wrote very frankly about both his successes and his failures, particularly his drug abuse. Placed alongside each other Piece by Piece comes off a little two-dimensional.

Most of the book takes very broad, intellectual strokes at explaining Tori's artistic process. Where her ideas come from, how she develops them, how she works with the musicians and tech crew that support her. Some of this is interesting. The whole study of archetypes and Tori shifting into different ones for each album hints at a number of possibilites for artists of any type. But the ideas are explored on such a basic level I got frustrated. That and I got tired of reading the short interviews with her musicians who couldn't stop raving about how amazing she is to work with. Instead of providing pages and pages of quotes saying, "Tori's just amazing on how she picks up what I'm doing,", telling a quick story that illustrates this would be much more illustrative, not to mention interesting. Show, don't tell, as the old adage goes.

Powers also makes a lot of assumptions that the reader brings a certain level of knowledge of Tori's background. After getting suffiently frustrated I looked up some quick bios on her online just to give myself a better frame of reference. This means it's probably geared mostly towards the superduper-Tori-fan, and maybe it's just not for me. Somehow, though, I expected a little more.


1 comment:

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Interesting -- (okay, yeah, I'm a bit sleep deprived but trying to keep up)... I have been reading Scar Tissue and I, too, am impressed so far with Kiedis's candor. I've never been a huge Tori Amos fan though... sounds like I'm not missing too much either way from her bio, as I can imagine reading it even if I weren't a huge fan, if it was a really great read...