Aug 20, 2009

Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Who Killed Amanda Palmer: A Collection of Photographic Evidence is a big and beautiful book filled with photography, song lyrics by musician Amanda Palmer, and short stories by Neil Gaiman. The pictures, by Kyle Cassidy, Beth Hommel, and many others, are of Amanda Palmer dead in difference places and from different causes. The lyrics are to Amanda Palmer's album of the same name, to which this book is a companion. And Neil Gaiman's short stories, which accompany some of the pictures, imagine scenarios that might have lead to Amanda Palmer's death. Sometimes they pose more questions than they give answers, but that only makes them more fun.

You might be wondering if you need to already be familiar with Amanda Palmer's music to be able to appreciate this book. The answer is probably no, but you'll appreciate it more if you are, and if you're not, the book will make you want to listen to the album. Which is a very good thing. Trust me, it is:


One of my favourite stories was the one accompanying the picture below, in which three young girls find the body of their governess, Miss Palmer, floating in a lake. The good news is that you can read it online. Other highlights were the gritty, urban retelling of the fairy tale "Diamonds and Toads", the creepy love letter "Modern Love", and "The Sword", in which a time-travelling Amanda kills her younger self.

Miss Palmer Drowned

Which brings me to another thing I wanted to mention: Who Killed Amanda Palmer is actually very funny. Really, it is. It's dark humour of a kind that perhaps not everyone will like, but it's most definitely my kind of humour. I think the book wouldn't work nearly as well as it does without the humour: the whole thing seems to have been done with the awareness that good art doesn't need to take itself too seriously to be serious, or evoke emotional responses. The laughter is there, but so are the horror and the occasional sadness. The overall tone is far from melancholy, though. This isn't so much a book about death as it is a book that celebrates life.

I'll leave you with a few more pictures (sadly I couldn't find my very favourites, but they're all stunning so there's no way to go wrong) and an excerpt:

Who Killed Amanda Palmer


Who Killed Amanda Palmer


Who Killed Amanda Palmer

(Oh, and also! There's a picture with Regina Spektor! This made me very happy, because I love her to bits - almost as much as I love Amanda.)
Very young children made up songs about the different ways Amanda died, killing her happily at the end of every verse, too young to understand the horror. Maybe it really was how she would have wanted to go.
If you see Amanda Palmer on the street, kill her, said the graffiti under the bridge in Boston. And beneath that somebody else wrote, That way she'll live forever.
Visit the album's official site to find out more, stream songs, and watch awesome videos.

Other Opinions:
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Un:Bound

(As always, let me know if I missed yours.)

43 comments:

  1. I am envious! I love the album, I love Amanda, I love Neil, I love them together, I love the concept for the book, I love the review.
    I think you should tweet a link to AFP of your review; it's the first I've seen in the blogosphere.

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  2. um, it might be helpful to explain WHO is this Amanda Palmer and why are we being exposed to her death in the first place. (It affronts my sensibilities?)

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  3. I saw Chris's review of this, and while I like Amanda Palmer, I think this would be just too graphic for me. I know it's fake, but still, not for me. I'm too squeamish. :D

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  4. Claire, Chris at Stuff as Dreams Are Made On actually reviewed it a few weeks ago, AND she tweeted about his review :o Maybe I'll do that later if I manage to gather the courage :P Which I probably will, as she doesn't intimidate me as much as other people I look up to do. I met her once, and she was SO nice and approachable!

    Anonymous: Sorry, I thought the links had all the info! She's a musician and performance artist, formerly of the band The Dresden Dolls and now working solo. She always had the habit of taking pictures of herself pretending to be dead in several places, and used the concept for her first solo album and this book. The title is of course a play on Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks. Like I said, I understand that this kind of humour isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it is mine :P

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  5. Amanda: To each their own, of course!

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  6. Apolgies for not being aware of Chris's review; I must check it out.

    She comes across as really down-to-earth from what I've read and Twitter but great to hear she is really like that in person! I admire her work ethic and respect for fans, which is so similar to Neil Gaiman's. I am desperate to buy this for a friend because it really is her cup of tea too (an artist friend of hers painted her in a dead pose).

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  7. Now I know what I'm ordering next from my friendly local bookstore ... :D

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  8. I also love Regina:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCvgXmg0m1g

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  9. So glad that you finally received your copy of this! I've never listened to her before but the book does look pretty cool!!

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  10. This looks so bizarre and macabre. I don't quite know what to think about it. And I generally like bizarre, macabre things.

    How are the stories? Do they work as standalones? The shorts Gaiman wrote for Tori Amos' Strange Little Girls made no sense to me because I hadn't heard the album.

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  11. Claire, I complete agree that they deal with their fans very similarly. They never forget that they (we :P) are real human begins and treating them (us :P) with true respect. I love that about them <3 The book is a limited edition of 10000 copies and so I thought it was going to sell out fast, but it hasn't yet! Probably because it's a little pricey, but it's beautifully done and well worth the cost. Having said that, after this I'm REALLY in need of a nice, long book buying ban :P

    Maree: I hope they manage to get it for you! I think you'd love it :D

    Lu: Infinite hearts for Regina!

    Staci: I did a little happy dance when I got my copy! And I hope you give her music a chance and fall in love with it :D

    Loren Eaton: It's bizarre, I guess, but not as macabre as it sounds :P I really understand that it's not for everyone, though. I think the stories work as standalones in the sense that you can understand them without the music, but they probably couldn't be separated from the pictures. You can always give the one I linked to a try. It's a really quick read.

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  12. I have to admire the creativity behind this, but it is a bit bizarre...

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  13. I must admit that it's not my taste, but I am glad that you liked it:)

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  14. Oh this is right up my alley! I was reading it and looking at the pictures, and was (I hesitate to say) laughing! I don't know anything about Amanda, but love Ms. Spektor. This is the kind of creativity that makes my head buzz!

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  15. I remember seeing this on Chris's blog and wanting to read it. I'm glad to see you had the same opinion of it!

    And as far as Amanda's music goes, where would you recommend one start...

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  16. Yikes! I'm not sure I'm ready for all those pictures.

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  17. What a neat concept for a book! I really like that the album and the book tie into each other. I will have to try and give this a look. You are also the first person who I have ever heard mention Regina Spektor! I love her, and have a lot of her music. Awesome, you've made my day!

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  18. What an interesting-sounding book! I love projects that put together a diversity of elements. Music, photography and short stories. Sounds lovely!

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  19. This book sounds absolutely wonderful and I'm heading right now to buy it. I love the combination of photography and storytelling, and of course with Neil Gaiman, how can you go wrong?

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  20. What interesting pictures! They look posed, so they don't look gruesome. It looks like a fun book!

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  21. This sounds like a very creative and fun book. I have no idea who Amanda Palmer is, though. *ducks*

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  22. I don't think I've read anything like this! That's such an interesting concept!!

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  23. I first learned of this book on Chris's blog and immediately headed to itunes to hear her music since I was unfamiliar. I decided I didn't really like her music BUT I *really* like the song you've posted here. Of course, anything with piano sweeps me off my feet (Hello Tori!).

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  24. This looks SO COOL, holy cannoli!

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  25. Wow, this looks super-interesting. I'm ashamed to say I don't know Amanda Palmer!! What kind of former college radio DJ am I??

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  26. LOL...I think we're freaking people in the blog world out :p I'm so glad that you got this wonderful book!! Wasn't it awesome? I've read it probably 20 times now. It's so good! I'm with you on the humor. I just totally lost it when I got to the picture towards the end with the hand flying across the walkway, lol. That one cracked me up. Great review Ana! Tweet it!

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  27. I read Chris's review and am now desperate to have this book. Even though I had NO IDEA who Amanda Palmer is, aside from Neil Gaiman mentions her on his blog occasionally. Must get on that.

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  28. Oh…how did you get your hands on this book? I have been hearing about this book on Gaiman's site for a long tiem. Good to hear it's as good as he says it is. Some very creative concept though.

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  29. I have to say: I am still not a fan of Amanda Palmer -- even though this is the sort of thing I have been known to like. ;p

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  30. I want this! I am very, very fond of the Dresden Dolls, so I was pleased as punch when I discovered Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman were collaborating on this. And I think it's perfect that they're dating now - they are two people about whom I have often thought it must be weird to live inside their heads, and for more or less the same reasons. So, perfect.

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  31. That first picture freaks me out! I think it's the font of the writing on the wall. I haven't heard of a book like this before, it sounds cool.

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  32. gaiman has been going on and on about amanda palmer on twitter for ages now and i was wondering what it was all about!

    this looks like a great collection!

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  33. JoAnn: lol, I guess it is :P But good bizarre!

    Andreea: I understand why it's not for everyone :)

    Sandy: yay, someone shares my sense of humour :D If you like Regina Spektor's music I think you might like Amanda's too. I hope you do!

    Lena: Hmm, the solo album (also called Who Killed Amanda Palmer) is a good place to start. The Dresden Dolls' albums are good too, though! They only have two, and I like the first one (self-titled) a bit more than the second, but both are good, so there's really no going wrong.

    Bermudaonion: lol, I understand :P

    Zibilee: Regina has quite a cult following I think! I hope you do give this (and Amanda's music) a look!

    Belle: I love multimedia stuff too :)

    Trisha: You can't :D

    rhapsodyinbooks: I didn't think they were gruesome too. There are a few in the book with blood, but they were actually less violent than I expected.

    heidenkind: No need to duck! But I hope you'll check out the links and discover her and love her :P

    Melody: Yeah, it's very much its own thing!

    Trish: She has lots of piano-ish stuff! Here's another one for you :P

    She: I'm glad you think so too :D

    Daphne: Time to discover her, I'd say! :P

    Chris: lol...we probably are, yes :P And I started the tweet like 3 different times, but alas...I'm a hopeless wimp :P

    Michelle: I hope you give her music a try! She's seriously awesome.

    Violet: I ordered it online! Pre-ordered it, actually, as I was paranoid about it selling out :P Chris laughed at my fears and he turned out to be right.

    Dark Orpheus: That makes me sad, but on the other hand, hearing from you makes me happy :P

    Jenny: I know what you mean, and I think it's perfect too!

    Kim: You know, I hadn't paid attention to the font, but I can see your point. It's such a good photo, though.

    JP: There's the collaboration, and there's them being a couple too :P Also, I didn't know you were on twitter - may I stalk you, kind sir?

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  34. I remember seeing this the other week on Chris's site. I thought it was interesting then. I didn't realise this was Neil Gaiman's girlfriend, what a fabulous working relationship they must have.

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  35. All I know about Amanda Palmer is that she's gorgeous and she just started playing the ukulele when she did the reading with Neil Gaiman in Dublin:P I liked the songs she did so I suppose I should start listening to her music:P

    The book looks amazing,but I doubt I can afford it these days. Think I'll put it on my wishlist for my 30th bday!

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  36. I need to get my review written! This was a great book. Any time you combine these three wonderful artists, you're going to get something magical.

    I love Regina Spektor, too! Do you have her new album?

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  37. Vivienne: They have to be one of the most talented couples ever :D

    Valentina: She really is gorgeous, and yes, you should listen to her!

    Jessi: I do! I'm seriously in love with it. Especially Dance Anthem of the 80's - the bit that goes "I went walking through the city/ Like a drunk but not" just about kills me. It's funny, because I wasn't too crazy about the song at first. And then I got to that part :P

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  38. I have no clue who Amanda Palmer is but still, this one looks cool...

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  39. If you and Chris hadn't already sold me with your reviews, you may have done it when you mentioned Regina Spektor! Thanks!

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  40. This does look really interesting. I read Chris' post as well and have seen the pictures on Neil Gaiman's blog over the last few months. Well it's my birthday next month and you never know what the birthday angel will bring...

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  41. All the pictures inspire me to do something interesting for this year's Something Sinister photo contest!

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  42. This sounds really interesting! I like Who Killed Amanda Palmer but have never heard of this! Thanks!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.