Tuesday Books No. 1: Why Karen Carpenter Matters

This is a great book. I bought it several months ago and started reading it. The author reveals to us the relevance of Karen Carpenter to American pop,  but also references her own life. This is an academic memoir free of jargon, written in fluid prose. Too often researchers are captive to the often unbearable unreadable lexicon of theory. Academics must use this and deftly to legitimize ideas that are new—and fields that are stigmatized or under fire must adhere to such language to warrant their existence. So it’s understandable why and how this happens. Yet books like this show another path and heart. We write to make sense of our dreams and pasts. Tongson does this well.

As a young girl I too longed to be Karen Carpenter. But mom told me if I played drums she would make me practice in the garage. And then entirely shut down that avenue. I played a host of instruments very badly throughout my childhood. We sang Top of the World in 4th grade North Liberty, Iowa music class. When I lived in Asia I became aware of the reach of the Carpenters. There are only a few groups that captured attention globally in this way. (I can see another book on ABBA? Who hasn’t danced to Dancing Queen at 3am on a bar top in an Asian metropolis nightclub? It’s a rite of passage LOL.) and yes, the sounds of her voice evoke a kind of longing, memory and control.

Thanks for writing this book! I highly recommend it.🙂


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