Madonna and Me
by Laura Barcella
For approximately 30 years, Madonna has been at the epicenter of media focus, has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, launched her own record label, been featured in an Oscar-winning film, authored bestselling books for both adults and children, become a fashion icon and prompted transnational debates over a range of feminist issues, varying from sexual fetish to adoption ethics. So, then, why has there never been an anthology which describes and chronicles Madonna’s powerful effect on woman around the world? This is precisely the question proposed by editor Laura Barcella, creator of the new anthology due out in March, “Madonna and Me.”
In “Madonna and Me,” 39 essays from woman around the globe write about the pop icon’s influence on their lives. Absolutely no subject goes uncharted. I was lucky enough receive a sneak peek into “Madonna and Me” to learn first-hand about the impact she has had on so many lives around the globe. Ranging on topics from sex, and money, to fashion and identity, to the seriousness of how one copes growing up in an unconventional family dynamic (like within Christine Bachman’s piece, “Marrying Madonna”), the confessions and writers featured are just as barefaced, enterprising and courageous as Madge herself.
“I chose Madonna as the focus of this anthology because that made the most sense to me,” Barcella says. “Madonna was my idol growing up.” Though Barcella admittedly says Madonna means less to her now as an adult, she still confesses that without the “Like a Virgin” performer, her life perspectives may have been different.
“As a feminist woman, I can look back and see that she planted the seeds for a lot of the beliefs I eventually adopted as a young woman,” Barcella continues. “I also knew, from talking to friends, that Madonna’s influence on other women of my generation was huge. I wanted to devote a book to that influence, and let women from varying ages and backgrounds have a chance to explore what she meant to them.”
Ferociously honest, at many moments funny and downright witty, as though one was flinging verbal switchblades into the air, each contributor genuinely delves into their hearts, minds, souls, memories and personal passionate moments to commemorate the ways Madonna encouraged and drove them to be more audacious, edgy and heroic.
“The idea for the book literally came to me in the middle of the night,” Barcella continues. “It was one of those spark-of-inspiration things you hear about but never think will actually happen. Suddenly, I sat up in bed, thinking, Why isn’t there an anthology of essays by women about Madonna?”
The next day, Barcella did research to see if anything remotely close was available to readers in the literary market. When she found nothing, she says it became an inevitable path to follow.
Organized into different sections or different “Tracks,” based on the different themes found in the essays (family, sex, growing up, etc.), throughout the development process, Barcella aimed to organize the essays in a way that would make the most sense to readers of all demographics. Because it shows fairness and tolerance toward different viewpoints, not all the essays are pro-Madonna. In fact, some of the writers dislike her method of operation and criticize her harshly—such as Colleen Kane’s essay, “Madonna is Boring and Lazy.”
“Madonna and Me”will debut in March for anyone remotely interested in how womanhood today was shaped. Yet, it’s not simply for fans, according to the editor. “Most of the essays are about the individual writers, as much as they’re about Madonna, the pop star,” Barcella informs. “That’s part of why I think this book is so special; you learn a ton about these fascinating women writers, some of whom you’ve probably read before and some of whom you may have never heard of.”
Barcella posted a call all over the electronic frontier, e-mailed loads of friends and acquaintances and reached out directly to writers to cull submissions. The response was nothing short of outstanding. Among those featured in the anthology is previous Wilmingtonian and renowned writer Shawna Kenney.
“Someone much older or younger than me or not of my generation may not see Madonna’s or any ‘80s-era musician’s relevance,” Kenney says. “Someone averse to pop music may feel the same way. My essay is a snapshot of me as an awkward teenager, interpreting and experimenting with all of the confusing messages that were swirling around me (religiously, musically, regionally and culturally). There are essays in the book that point out Madonna’s shortcomings, some calling her a cultural vampire—I don’t disagree with some of the critique. I don’t think it’s only about giving her credit.”
After more than a year of preparation, the book sold to Soft Skull Press, a credible independent publisher. Folks can pre-order a copy from www.IndieBound.com, or visit www.madonnaandmebook.com for more information.