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NOT ABOUT MADONNA: My Little Pre-Icon Roommate and Other Memoirs. By WHIT HILL
Paper 978-0-9832940-0-9 $17.95 • eBook 978-0-9832940-1-6 $9.99
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From the Author's Note to NOT ABOUT MADONNA
In the fall of 1977, when I came to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to enter the dance program at the University of Michigan, I thought I knew a thing or two. I had acted professionally in New York City, my hometown. I had posed nude for art classes. … I was a very modern girl.
When I met Madonna Ciccone, my initial assessment, even as I watched her leg soaring into an effortless front extension, was that I had little to learn from any young whippersnapper from Michigan, safety-pinned earlobes or no. I felt no instant flush of warmth and trust the day we met, no recognition of a kindred spirit — in fact all I recall feeling was an almost seismic wariness. But somehow, a few days later, she was my roommate. ... I never knew what hit me.
. . .
[On writing the book] The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the story of my knowing her has a lot to do with some themes I actually am interested in: women artists in America, fame vs. non-fame, life vs. life onscreen, and all the ways you can lose your mom.
So here’s my dissertation. But first, I have a request:
Close this book and look at the title again. Read it out loud. Did you? Good. I just want to be really clear about what this is. If you are looking for the dirt on a pre-fame Madonna, there are quite a few volumes of literature out there that will meet your needs better than this one, that will tell you what you expect to be told. I am happy to share with you most of what I remember from that time — and quite a bit more — but it may not be what you are after. Madonna is a spoke in my wheel, a cog in my whirring factory. This book is a lot of things. And even though she’s in it, this book is not about Madonna.
Whit Hill / Nashville, Tennessee
Copyright 2011 Whit Hill. No reproduction without permission.
"[Whit Hill] has done what good memoirists who write well do — make readers care about their less extraordinary lives. ... The author has a sure voice, a generous tone, and rhythmically timed irony. ... Hill's songwriter chops are clearly on display." —FOREWORD REVIEWS
"As is evident from the beginning, and increasingly obvious with every page turn, Hill is a writer of great honesty, insight and wit. This is a coming of age story—Hill’s, not Madonna’s —told by someone who experienced, and continues to live a life with relevance and interest for many of us, even those not ga ga over Madonna." —CURRENT
"Hill's prose is intelligent but casual, blending personal insight with self-deprecating humor." —Critics' Picks, NASHVILLE SCENE
"A gracefully written memoir filled with fascinating portraits of college days and coming of age and love of family — and what it means to be a woman in this celebrity culture. The narrative is rich, generous, and very smart. It's refreshing to spend time with this wonderful book."—PATRICIA BOSWORTH, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair
"It's complex, it's wise, it's funny, it's raw, it's bittersweet, it's all these things and more, this passionate memoir of Whit Hill's. I am filled with admiration for her and her work — and I thank her for offering me a glimpse into her sweet world. I was moved to tears." —LUCINDA WILLIAMS, Grammy-winning Singer-Songwriter
"Not About Madonna is an Americana period piece, giving some fond farewell to an era that was so bittersweet, full of potential and the dream of free will. As Whit's opposite in many senses, Madonna was the perfect foil in her search for self-knowledge. This is a Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman, but taken forward over decades. A real panorama, made with efficiency and simple eloquence." —PETER SPARLING, Thurnau Professor of Dance, University of Michigan; Former Principal Dancer, The Martha Graham Dance Company
"When I met Madonna Ciccone, my initial assessment ... was that I had little to learn from any young whippersnapper from Michigan, safety-pinned earlobes or no."
So begins Whit Hill's compelling, revealing, funny memoir of her life, as reflected through the lens of her junior year at the University of Michigan — with her roommate Madonna.
And it is also Whit's story of the years that followed, a life of dance, music, love, loss, and change.
This is a book about two very different women who lived alongside each other for nine months. About women artists in America, about mothers and daughters, about giving birth — to hot, squirming babies, and to huge, ionospheric pop careers. It is about loss and poverty and hope and happiness. And remembrance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Whit Hill was born and raised in New York City, where she trained as an actor and dancer, and graduated from The University of Michigan with a B.F.A. For fourteen years she was artistic director of a Michigan-based dance company. A writer and songwriter, she now lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, musician Al Hill. She is the mother of two grown children. She is somewhat obsessed with dogs and watches too much television. (Author photo by Robin Dodd)
Visit Whit Hill's website WhitHill.com