A provocative memoir “about working as a fake violinist for a famous American composer.”
Hindman insists that “all of the events chronicled here, to the best of my knowledge and memory, are true,” but she also admits that the “I” of a memoir is “perhaps the biggest fakery of all.” So she generally substitutes “you” for “I,” particularly in her accounts of coming-of-age in Appalachia, where she developed a passion for the violin without ever demonstrating the gift of a prodigy. She also swallowed the lie that if you work hard enough, you can be anything you want, an assertion she learned was particularly problematic for a young female. These interludes provide context for the main narrative, which concerns the four years she spent touring to perform the music of a man identified as “The Composer,” an experience that “almost killed” her. The Composer had his ensembles “play” their music with minimal amplification, while what the audience heard was the music from a hidden CD player. When someone occasionally asked if they were really playing, they could honestly say they were, but what they were playing was not what the audience was hearing. Hindman kept the job as a faux violinist because she was desperate, because her college tuition was beyond the means of her Appalachian parents, and because as an egg donor she had already exhausted her resources with “the thirty egg-children I sold to pay…undergraduate tuition.” As the author connects the dots among American gullibility over fake weapons of mass destruction, chain restaurants offering faux authenticity, and her own psychological breakdown, the emotional honesty of her narrative permits no doubt. “Faking violin stardom,” writes the author, “ultimately allowed me to return to what captivated me at four years old….It was simply this: I loved a song.”
Like the most discerning members of the audiences for whom Hindman played, readers may be left wondering what’s really real—and how it matters. A tricky, unnerving, consistently fascinating memoir.