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To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781035408887

Price: £14.99

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ONE OF THE NEW YORKER‘S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

CHOSEN BY PITCHFORK AS ONE OF THE TEN BEST MUSIC BOOKS OF 2023


ONE OF LOUDER THAN WAR‘S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR


LONGLISTED FOR THE PLUTARCH AWARD

INCLUDED IN PUBLISHERS WEEKLY‘S SEVEN BOOKS FROM 2023 YOU SHOULDN’T OVERLOOK

“It takes a great journalist to find the stories behind the mysteries we carry. Howard Fishman has done that with his superb examination of Connie Converse.– Ken Burns

“Nothing short of remarkable.” – Publishers Weekly

“A massive and fascinating feat.” – MOJO Magazine

The true story of Connie Converse – a mid-century New York singer and songwriter, who mysteriously disappeared – and one writer’s quest to understand her life.

When musician and New Yorker contributor Howard Fishman first heard a Connie Converse recording, he was convinced she could not be real. Her music was too out of place for the 1950s to make sense – a singer who bridged the gap between traditional Americana, pop standards, and the singer-songwriter movement that exploded a decade later with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

Fishman was determined to know more about this artist and how she slipped through the cracks of music history but there was one problem: in 1974, at the age of fifty, Converse simply drove off one day and was never heard from again.

After a dozen years of research, Fishman expertly weaves a narrative of her life and music, and of how it has come to speak to him as both an artist and a person.

It is by turns a hopeful, inspiring, melancholy, and chilling story of dark family secrets, taciturn New England traditions, a portrait of 1950s Greenwich Village, of a visionary intellect and talent, and a woman who fiercely strove for independence when the odds were against her. Who was this overlooked trailblazer, how did she come to make such complex and arresting music, and can Fishman discover what happened to the artist who disappeared?

What's Inside

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Reviews

Musician, culture writer, and playwright Fishman's extraordinary trek through the life and works of Connie Converse is a laudable endeavor... the author constructs an emotional narrative ... [To Anyone Who Ever Asks is] an interesting foray into Converse's glimmer of fame and sad subsequent neglect.
Library Journal
[Fishman's] enthusiasm and diligence is infectious . . . Through the obsession of such dedicated fans as Fishman, Connie Converse will find a larger audience.
Kirkus
The mystery of American composer Connie Converse's disappearance in 1974 is ongoing, and she may be lost forever. But her spectacular work has been rescued and elevated to a marvelous level by Howard Fishman. Her music belongs to an America that barely knows it exists.
William Kennedy, Pulitzer prize-winning author of IRONWEED
Connie Converse's songs are a revelation, finely wrought, wry, as beautiful as they are weird. I'm so grateful this enigmatic writer and her catalogue are being explored and celebrated, in this book and beyond.
Anaïs Mitchell, Tony and Grammy-winning creator of HADESTOWN, and author of WORKING ON A SONG
[To Anyone Who Ever Asks] is the grandly researched portrait of a talent who didn't get her due, a kind of worst-case study of why this indignity remains a brutally common occurrence ... [it]is simultaneously the record of an obsession and its ultimate payoff. It's hard to think of any book that grants such loving attention to an artist who has otherwise been denied it.
Washington Post
Gripping and searching... Mr. Fishman's thoughtful and deeply researched book provides a far bolder jolt than any cover version can provide. It may yet help find for Converse what the author proposes-a place at 'the table of great American artists and thinkers'.
Wall Street Journal
Packed with detective-level details about a Renaissance woman whose work passed through this world all but unnoticed.
Boston Globe
A massive and fascinating feat.
MOJO Magazine
Uncovers a haunting picture of a troubled life.
UNCUT
It takes a great journalist to find the stories behind the mysteries we carry. Howard Fishman has done that with his superb examination of Connie Converse.
Ken Burns
Nothing short of remarkable.
Publishers Weekly
So powerful...A totemic accomplishment and indispensable guide. The exhaustive care with which Fishman approaches his subject is itself hypnotic, even devastating.
Los Angeles Review of Books