Book Review: I, Bificus by Bif Naked
ashley | Growing up in a small town, I didn’t have the luxury of cable television. And for a diehard music junkie like me, this deprived me of MuchMusic or MTV. But one wonderful year in my teens, my parents got a satellite and with that satellite, came my first music video (Bitch by Meridith Brooks) and then a whole lot of other rock n’ roll greatness. As I still am, I was drawn to any female up there rocking out. And then somewhere in the late 90’s, I found Bif Naked. As an adult, I can appreciate everything that she’s been through and done for women, for music, for Canadians, for animals and for Breast Cancer. But I can’t shake the awe I felt seeing this bold, beautiful, tatted up gal giving her all on the TV. She seemed like a whole other creature, a whole other world to me. So it was kind of amazing to get a look behind the curtains in Bif’s book I, Bificus. Because as awe inspiring as she seemed to me then, reading about everything else she has done and how she got where she was is far more inspiring and powerful than I could have ever imagined.
The most interesting thing, and likely most surprising for me, was how little music is mentioned in the first half of this book. I’m use to jumping right into how big of an inspiration, savior, vice music was in the life of the musician writing the memoir, how from an early age, music consumed them and that’s all they lived and breathed. Bif’s childhood wasn’t devoid of music, but it certainly didn’t play a huge role in her early years. In fact, Bif had quite the wild childhood and I felt almost voyeur-like reading about it, a little uncomfortable knowing these intimate and often jaw dropping and dangerously awful details. It wasn’t until she hit college that music started becoming a more constant partner in crime, and even then she only got involved because of a boy.
The writing here is not always the most fluent; a lot of details tend to be repeated in each chapter making it feel like each chapter was written individually as a small essay as opposed to a book put together with a flowing notion. Which is fine, these snippets still work, I just got a little annoyed hearing over and over again that Heather was her little sister. We knew that already. But minor detail. I also found that the writing wasn’t very descriptive or flowery, it was very factual – this is what happened, end of chapter. We didn’t get a lot of emotional insight into what this made her feel at the time or even now, reflecting back on it, which I was kind of hoping for, knowing some of the struggles Bif dealt with later in life. But reading some of the things she experienced at such an early age, I don’t think anyone would be able to write descriptive, openly colourful prose about such dark and heavy topics. It kind of works with the material she’s working with here, which isn’t necessarily pretty. But loyal to her being, Bif wears it proudly and stands tall through the reminiscing. You have to admire it.
This was a strange memoir for me. I still admire Bif and happily ate up the book, but I’m not sure I was entirely moved by the book nor did my admiration or love of her grow. I definitely learned a lot, but I don’t have that feeling of familiarity or like I know her a bit more as a result. Somehow the book is very intimate with details, yet lacks intimacy. Which is strange to me.
june 28, 2016