Nominally an expansion of her TED talk, The Art of Asking is a meandering look into what makes Amanda Palmer, well, Amanda Palmer. I’ll be upfront about this: it’s not a book for everyone. Palmer is frank, which means that sometimes she (and her music) will rub you the wrong way. There is a positive side to that, though: it means she’s honest, and that makes her book utterly refreshing. She talks about a lot of things — her time as a street performer, her music, her relationship with Neil Gaiman — but at the book’s heart, it comes down to one thing: she is interested in the connections between people and how we ask for things.
Because Palmer is a musician, this is framed in music terms: a musician asking her fans for support, help, love, money. But what she says — that there are ways to ask that aren’t begging, and that it’s the connections (what she calls the net) that make asking possible — is applicable for just about everyone. It got me thinking about gifts and connections and how relationships work. At one point, she says that asking without condition is a gift, because it allows the other person to give, which is something that resonated with me.
While this can be read, I listened to the audio version and enjoyed it quite a bit. While Palmer’s voice was sometimes difficult for me to hear, I really enjoyed hearing snatches of her music. But, mostly, I felt like she was in the car with me, explaining her life view, and how, just maybe, it might make my life a little bit better.
Rated: High. Palmer doesn’t check her language. There’s a ton of swearing, of all shades. And she’s pretty frank about pretty much everything from sex to drugs.