You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
Tori Amos's Boys for Pele
The cult of Tori Amos and how to navigate a life of writing
Reviewed by Rachel Rascoe, Fri., Dec. 21, 2018
Local novelist Amy Gentry's contribution to the 33 1/3 music book series stems from her high school newspaper reporting. Like many critics at the time, the 17-year-old Texan found herself thoroughly grossed out by Tori Amos' 1996 album Boys for Pele, panning the contentious work as "self-indulgent." In her new adult evaluation, the onetime Chronicle style columnist and Amos-lover unpacks the singer's third LP in an unflinching memoir and cultural analysis. By questioning the interplay of misogyny in her own reception of so-called divas like Amos, Gentry takes readers on a journey of self-examination. She tracks the idea of taste back to Western European ideals and points out the pitfalls of gut reaction. As such, the vibrant pocketbook thus stands in counterpoint to Carl Wilson's infamous 33 1/3 installment on Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love, noting the simultaneous attraction and disgust garnered by stars like Dion and Amos. The book importantly considers the power of queer, young, and women-based fandoms, a subset of supporters famously devalued by the music industry. Speaking to an audience far beyond Amos fans, Gentry offers an eye-opening push to more thoughtfully consume art.
Tori Amos’s Boys for Peleby Amy Gentry
Bloomsbury Academic, 192 pp., $14.95