Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is the author of Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir. Her recent writing has appeared in McSweeney's, The New York Times Magazine, Brevity and Hippocampus. She holds a BA in Middle Eastern studies and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and a PhD in English from the University of North Texas. She teaches creative writing at Northern Kentucky University, where she recently won the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. In her spare time she enjoys cooking (Italian), dancing (Beyoncé), and dreaming up clever Halloween costumes (Large Hadron Particle Collider).
When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs,” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she “plays” for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake. Sounds Like Titanic is a surreal, often hilarious coming-of-age story. Hindman writes with precise, candid prose and sharp insight into ambition and gender, especially when it comes to the difficulties young women face in a world that views them as silly, shallow, and stupid. As the story swells to a crescendo, it gives voice to the anxieties and illusions of a generation of women, and reveals the failed promises of a nation that takes comfort in false realities.
“Far-reaching, insightful, and unputdownable.”
“[A] most original memoir, one in which the narrator’s intelligence deepens by the page…. I salute Jessica Hindman for having shaped so well a remarkable piece of experience.”
- Vivian Gornick, author of The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir
“[P]rovocative. … A tricky, unnerving, consistently fascinating memoir.”
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Sounds Like Titanic would be unbelievable as a novel, but as a memoir it is deliciously bizarre and utterly American. It's a Coen Brothers movie come to life—Ruby Tuesdays, QVC, and one woman working for years as a fake violinist for classical music's version of Thomas Kinkade. I couldn't put it down."
- Caitlin Doughty, bestselling author of From Here to Eternity and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
“Hindman is an emissary for a generation, repurposing its sarcasm and irony in a nuanced, humorous, and intelligent look at what it means to construct and consume fake realities in post-9/11 America.”
- Angela Palm, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize for Riverine
“An evocative portrait of America’s literal and figurative landscapes, an incisive look at class and gender, and an examination of what authenticity means.”
- Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun
“It’s difficult to write a funny, angry book. It’s even harder to write a merciless, empathetic book. But here comes Jessica Hindman, doing the impossible with a funny, angry, merciless, empathetic book that’s not only a hugely entertaining memoir, but an insightful meditation on a time in our nation’s recent history whose strange and ominous influence grows more apparent by the day.”
- Tom Bissell, author of Apostle and coauthor of The Disaster Artist
“Writers Recommend.” - Poets & Writers. 28 Feb 2019. Web.
“How to Fake an Oscar-Nominated Musical Performance.” - Medium. 22 Feb 2019. Web.
"Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir." W.W. Norton, 2019. Print.
“Exponential.” - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. 2 Nov 2018. Web.
“Milli Violini.” - LennyLetter. 26 June 2018. Web.
“Letter of Recommendation: Vivaldi’s ‘Winter.’” - The New York Times Magazine. 25 Feb 2018. Print. Web.
“False Note.” - Rhapsody Magazine. (November, 2017). Print. Web.
“Advanced Placement.” - Hippocampus Magazine. (November, 2016). Web.
“Seven Women Hold a Man’s Brain in Their Hands.” - Brevity. 49. (May, 2015). Web.
“West Virginia Tunnel Vision.” Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose. 12. (2013): 45-63. Print.
“Solo Virtuoso.” O: The Oprah Magazine Apr. 2009: 40. Print.
“Their Struggle Is Ours Too.” HAMSA Initiative. The American Islamic Congress, 11 Sept. 2007. Web.
“Cairo, Egypt.” Invisible Citizens: Youth Politics after September 11. Ed. Ganesh Sitaraman and Previn Warren. New York: IUniverse, Harvard College, 2003. 8-9. Print.
“Amelia and the Sauce.” Internationally Yours: Prize-Winning Stories. Columbia, MD: Joyous Pub., 2006. 43-47. Print.
“A Gun and a Book: Teaching Naguib Mahfouz’s The Thief and the Dogs in a Time of Revolution and Occupation.” Critical Pedagogy and Global Literature: Worldly Teaching. Ed. Masood Ashraf Raja. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 181-88. Print.
“Interview with Alicia Oltuski.” The American Literary Review Online. 12 May 2012. Web.
“Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans.” Book Review. The American Literary Review Online. 30 Sept. 2011. Web.
“Masters of the Typewriter, Doctors of the Whip.” Book Review of The Program Era by Mark McGurl. American Literary Review Online. 15 Nov. 2010. Web.
BEREA, KY: Thursday, March 21st, 2019 Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, 6pm. With Sabrina Sipple. (MORE INFO)
CINCINNATI: Wednesday, April 3, 2019 Cincinnati Art Museum, 6:30pm. With Rachael Banks, Mike Oberst, Richard Taylor, and George Ella Lyon
LOUISVILLE, KY: Thursday, April 11th, 2019 Gravely Brewing, 6-8pm. With Robert Simonds of the Louisville Orchestra. Sponsored by Louisville Literary Arts
WOODSTOCK, VA: Friday, May 17th 5:30pm, Muse Vineyards.
DENVER: Monday, June 17th-Tuesday, June 18th Lit Fest, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Time TBA.
NASHVILLE: Friday, October 11th Southern Festival of the Books, Time TBA.
GALLATIN, TN: Saturday November 2nd Keynote Reading, TYCA-TN Conference, Time TBA.
LEXINGTON, KY: November 10th-16th Kentucky Book Festival, Time TBA