Sounds Like Titanic
Jessica Chiccehito Hindman
Contributed by Greta Venegas

Biography of the Author

Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is the author of her debut memoir, Sounds Like Titanic. Due to her recent work, she has made appearances in The New York Times Magazine, Hippocampus, Lenny Letter, McSweeney’s, and Brevity. Hindman also works as an author at W. W. Norton & Company and manages the Loch Norse Magazine. During the early stages of her life, she had ambitions to become a successful violinist. While she was growing up, her dreams come true when she gets hired by The Composer, even though her job is fake. Despite the nature of her work as a violinist, she has ‘performed’ on QVC, PBS, and at music concerts worldwide and currently lives in Newport, Kentucky.

As an academic, Hindman studied Creative Nonfiction at the University of North Texas where she acquired a Ph.D. in English. She also studied Creative Nonfiction Writing at Columbia University School of the Arts, and Middle Eastern Studies, specifically Arabic, at Columbia University in the City of New York. Presently, she is the Assistant Professor at Northern Kentucky University where she recently won the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award.

In her free time, Hindman enjoys dancing to Beyonce’s music, cooking Italian cuisines, and coming up with clever Halloween costumes.

The context of the book

The book, Sounds Like Titanic, was written by Jessica Chiccehito Hindman in 2019. In the memoir, the author describes how she worked as a violinist (between 2002 and 2006), but her music was never audible. As she and the other musicians performed, they did so in front of dead microphones while a CD player of a prerecorded performance by a different violinist played to the audience. The mastermind of this sham is an American composer, referred to as “The Composer” in this memoir. Hindman realizes this at a concert ensemble when she — together with the other musicians — see The Composer pressing the play button of a prerecorded CD player of the Titanic soundtrack, ‘My Heart Will Go On’, by Celine Dion. She also realized that the crowd in their concert ensembles could not tell the difference. Hindman also delves into incidences of fakery evident in the story, such as the fact that she had to narrate the memoir in the second person, ‘You’, instead of the first person, ‘I’, because she believes nobody would pay attention to the story especially if it came from the author themselves. This style has been used significantly throughout the story.

As the memoir proceeds, Hindman talks about more significant issues, exploring questions relating to gender and why she only earned respect from crowds when she played her violin. She also explores questions concerning the economy, specifically the student debt crisis which led her to work as a fake violinist, therefore, making her lose grasp of the differences between fiction and reality. Furthermore, the author proceeds to talk about America’s endless desire to comfort fakery during the Iraq war and the post 9/11 era, and how that wish played out (Grady, 2019).

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