Let Me Clear My Throat (Hardcover)
Sarabande Books, 9781936747528, 240pp.
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
From Farinelli, the eighteenth century castrato who brought down opera houses with his high C, to the recording of "Johnny B. Goode" affixed to the Voyager spacecraft, Let Me Clear My Throat dissects the whys and hows of popular voices, making them hum with significance and emotion. There are murders of punk rock crows, impressionists, and rebel yells; Howard Dean's "BYAH " and Marlon Brando's "Stella " and a stock film yawp that has made cameos in movies from A Star is Born to Spaceballs. The voice is thought's incarnating instrument and Elena Passarello's essays are a riotous deconstruction of the ways the sounds we make both express and shape who we are--the annotated soundtrack of us giving voice to ourselves.
Elena Passarello is an actor and writer originally from Charleston, South Carolina. She studied nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Iowa, and her essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Gulf Coast, Slate, Iowa Review, The Normal School, Literary Bird Journal, Ninth Letter, and in the music writing anthology Pop Till the World Falls Apart. She has performed in several regional theaters in the East and Midwest, originating roles in the premieres of Christopher Durang's Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge and David Turkel's Wild Signs and Holler. In 2011 she became the first woman winner of the annual Stella Screaming Contest in New Orleans.
About the Author
Praise For Let Me Clear My Throat: Essays…
"This striking debut is graceful even in its portrayal of the most barbaric groans and yelping cries."
"In a brilliant combination of rigorous study and conversational tone, actor and essayist Passarello has created a remarkably entertaining and thought-provoking look at the human voice and all of its myriad functions and sounds.... A wonderful collection for any reader and every library. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal, Starred Review
In this eclectic collection of essays, actress and writer Passarello explores the ways in which our voices define us, refine us, and connect us to one another.... Passarello, the first woman to win the annual Stella Screaming Contest in New Orleans, informs and delights in this witty, original read.”
What she’s produced here is a masterfully orchestrated collection of essays, so finely tuned and executed that they ring with choirboy clarity.... Not only an authority on the human voice, but also one hell of an entertaining writer.”
The beauty of Elena Passarello's voice is that it's so confidently its own. She's not selling her subjects. She writes with the kind of calm assumption of interest you make in a good friend (if a good listener) over dinner. But what she's saying is always unexpected, and full of information. I began randomly with her essay wondering what the space aliens will make of 'Johnny B. Goode' on the Voyager gold record, and couldn't stop after that.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan
When I first read Elena Passarello's essay, How to Spell the Rebel Yell’, I was so excited I pumped my fist in the air and let out a celebratory, "Yessssss!" Her much-anticipated collection, Let Me Clear My Throat has that effect on the reader. This book is a stunning and exhilarating intellectual romp...”
Steven Church, author of The Day After The Day After: My Atomic Angst, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, and The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, and editor of The Normal School
Elena Passarello's writing singsand screams, quavers, and falls meditatively hushedand this collection captures that startling range with the charm of the tracks on a crackling, spinning LP.”
"With her extraordinary powers of listening, Elena Passarello helps us hear the sorrow, the epiglottis, and the Allegheny River in the many wondrous things the voice can do besides talking."