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A poignant and hilarious oral history of a (fictitious) musical phenomenon.
Adrianne Geffel was a genius. Praised as the “Geyser of Grand Street” and the “Queen of Bleak Chic,” she was a one-of-a-kind artist, a pianist and composer with a rare neurological condition that enabled her to make music that was nothing less than pure, unmediated emotional expression. She and her sensibility are now fully integrated into the cultural lexicon; her music has been portrayed, represented, and appropriated endlessly in popular culture. But what do we really know about her? Despite her renown, Adrianne Geffel vanished from public life, and her whereabouts remain a mystery to this day.
David Hajdu cuts through the noise to tell, for the first time, the full story of Geffel’s life and work, piecing it together through the memories of those who knew her, inspired her, and exploited her—her parents, teachers, best friend, manager, critics, and lovers. Adrianne Geffel made music so strange, so compelling, so utterly unique that it is simply not to be believed. Hajdu has us believing every note of it in this slyly entertaining work of fiction.
A brilliantly funny satire, with characters that leap off the page, Adrianne Geffel is a vividly twisted evocation of the New York City avant-garde of the 1970s and ’80s, and a strangely moving portrait of a world both utterly familiar and like none we’ve ever encountered.
DAVID HAJDU is the author of five acclaimed books of cultural history, biography, and criticism, including Lush Life, and a three-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He is the music critic for the Nation, a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, and a songwriter and librettist. He lives in New York City.
AMANDA PETRUSICH is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of three books. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction and has been nominated for a Grammy Award.