And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom
138 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.50 in
Sales Date: March 1, 2016
When Alina Simone agreed to write a book about Madonna, she thought it might provide an interesting excuse to indulge her own eighties nostalgia. Wrong. What Simone discovered instead was a tidal wave of already published information about Madonna—and her own ambivalence about, maybe even jealousy of, the Material Girl’s overwhelming commercial success. With the straight-ahead course stymied, Simone set off on a quirky detour through the backroads of celebrity and fandom and the people who love or loathe Madonna.
In this witty, sometimes acerbic, always perceptive chronicle, Simone begins by trying to understand why Madonna’s birthplace, Bay City, Michigan, won’t even put up a sign to celebrate its most famous citizen, and ends by asking why local bands who make music that’s authentic and true can disappear with barely a trace. In between, she ranges from Madonna fans who cover themselves with tattoos of the singer’s face and try to make fortunes off selling her used bustiers and dresses, to Question Mark and the Mysterians—one-hit wonders best known for “96 Tears”—and Flying Wedge, a Detroit band that dropped off an amazing two-track record in the office of CREEM magazine in 1972 and vanished, until Simone tracked it down.
Filled with fresh insights about the music business, fandom, and what it takes to become a superstar, Madonnaland is as much a book for people who, like Simone, prefer “dark rooms, coffee, and state-subsidized European films filled with existential despair” as it is for people who can’t get enough of Madonna.
"How do we start with sparkly cone bras and end with a well-considered philosophy of human fulfillment? No idea, but Simone manages to do it. Madonnaland is a profound and hilarious stream-of-consciousness funfair ride through the postmodern theme park of super fans, celebrity, taste, and capitalism, with Simone as the perfect conductor."~Amanda Palmer
"Alina Simone’s critical (and hilariously self-critical) look at pop culture, ambition, identity, and the strange things that can happen when art meets time is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a ray of light."~Ben Greenman, New York Times best-selling author of Mo’ Meta Blues and The Slippage
"Simone . . . achieves a productive union between the obscure and the intriguing."~New York Times Book Review
"Madonnaland is a wonderful collection of essays on subjects ranging from one man's quest to get Bay City to recognize its famous daughter, and other bands that hail from the Michigan city, like Question Mark and the Mysterians. Simone is a deeply funny writer, but also a perceptive, compassionate one."~NPR's Best Books of 2016
"Alina Simone gives us a fuller, weirder and more interesting overview of Madonna than we may have thought possible. . . . It's the way Simone presents her story that's most riveting, whether it's looking at idiosyncratic figures from the pop star's home state . . . or her own journey from pop music fandom to indie rock."~Rolling Stone's 10 Best Music Books of 2016
"Though Madonnaland seems to be about other musicians, at heart it's a meditation on the author's own career, which provides a convenient entry point…a meditation on success and failure and an attempt to come to some sort of peace with one's place in the world."~Chicago Reader
"Simone’s book is more than a portrait of Madonna and the people who love her, it’s a reflection on the nature of pop music fandom."~Men's Journal, "The Best Books of March"
"Alina Simone’s Madonnaland is a totally excellent book, and if you don’t bother to read it, you will be missing something significant in the development of modern cultural criticism."~PopMatters
"The entire book is great fun for any lover of music history, and Simone always supplies contrary and complicating thinking about her own opinions...Madonnaland is another fine book on contemporary music from the University of Texas Press."~Yes! Weekly
- 1. Conspiracy in Bay City, or, Why is Madonna's birthplace the last place in America where she is actively controversial?
- 2. Seeking Refuge from '80s Rock, or, Was Madonna actually an outsider artist?
- 3. Magical Contagion, or, What happens to Madonna's lonely mountain of stuff after she dies?
- 4. Madonna Misconstrued, or, Getting the hell into Michigan
- 5. Mystery of the Mondegreen, or, Who was the first band to smuggle the word "masturbate" onto the Billboard top 100?
- 6. Flying Wedge, or, Could a band with three fans be (another) missing link between hard rock and punk?