Twist: An American Girl (Hardcover)
"One of the most original, amazing stories I've ever read" (Mary Gaitskill), iconic rock-and-roll musician Adele Bertei's memoir Twist is her harrowing and electric story of transforming trauma through art, pluck, and imagination, as told through the inimitable voice of her young alter ego, Maddie Twist. From iconoclastic writer and musician Adele Bertei comes a wholly original hero's journey that wages war on the clich of the "misery memoir." Set in a 1960s and '70s American neighborhood rife with poverty and violence, fatherless Irish mothers and Italian mobsters, and women crucified into madness by misogyny, Bertei speaks through her electrically alive avatar Maddie Twist to flip the victim script. Through her unshakable belief in imagination, poetry, music, and community, she transforms trauma into survival. The immediacy of Maddie's voice is a revelation, providing insight into long-enduring systemic problems without the scrim of adult analysis. In an age of lies and obfuscation, Twist is a sharp yet tender arrow to the heart of naked truth. Bertei reveals what it's like to be a queer teen at a time when discovery could be fatal. Maddie peers deeply into the American psyche, refusing to consent to the systems of harm. Along the way we encounter an unforgettable schizophrenic mother, Catholic saints, West Side Story and Oliver , poet killers, the abyss of rape, girl-gangsters and faux-pimps, teenage lesbian sex, racial tensions and misconceived divides, a drag family known as the Holy Maudlins, Vietnam vets in dark and light, cabaret, true family, rock and roll. And the ultimate saving grace: love. A compelling personal history of queer culture from a working-class view and a glimpse into worlds yet unseen, Twist is good medicine: for readers who've experienced similar traumas, for teens caught in the foster care system, for the formerly incarcerated looking for hope, for writers grappling with how to tell their own stories. Most of all, it's for everyone seeking transportive experiences in art and on the page.
About the Author
ADELE BERTEI began playing music in Cleveland with Pere Ubu's legendary Peter Laughner, and as an original member of the Contortions, produced by Brian Eno on No New York. She was the pioneering creator of The Bloods--the first out, queer, all-women-rock band. Her singing and songwriting career includes recording, performing live, and writing for such diverse acts as Thomas Dolby, Tears for Fears, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Scritti Politti, Sheena Easton, Jellybean Benitez, Lydia Lunch, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, the Pointer Sisters, and John Lurie. Bertei played a lead role in Lizzie Borden's seminal feminist sci-fi film Born in Flames. She is the author of two previous books: Peter and the Wolves (a memoir) and Why Labelle Matters, a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards. Twist: An American Girl is her origin story.