“Ali Smith’s The Ballad of Speedball Baby is a sometimes-harrowing ride poetically described in neon prose. Ali takes me to places I’ve been myself as a fellow ‘woman of the road’ and rocked and rolled. She brings it all back home so vividly with humor, originality, and love—and ‘oh-yeah-that-happened-to-me-too’ truthfulness. Like the touring band’s rite of passage: crashing in a stranger’s house in Where-am-I? USA and barely escaping with your life and bass guitar…or bartending in an East Village dive bar. It’s a special experience being a Woman in Rock, and as Ali’s story unfolds, she’ll bring you along for the trip of your life.” —Kate Pierson, the B-52’s
- The Ballad of Speedball Baby
By Ali Smith
Foreword by Exene Cervenka
Read by Ali Smith
Foreword read by Exene Cervenka
Release Date: 1/16/24
Formats: Trade Print ARC, Hardcover, Trade Paperback
The Ballad of Speedball Baby is the thrilling, darkly hilarious, and heart-wrenchingly vulnerable story of Ali Smith’s coming-of-age in ’90s New York as she commits to the messy, exhilarating life of a musician and must survive the slings and arrows society reserves for women who refuse to comply.
As an only child reeling from the demolition of her parents’ toxic marriage, the New York City underground music scene offers a young Ali a different family of misfits and talented outsiders to belong to.
She becomes the bass player for edgy band Speedball Baby, a decision that will take her around the world—from onstage at the legendary CBGBs to the red-light district of Amsterdam. She’s often the only girl in a broken-down tour van, being strip-searched at the Croatian border, chased by lunatics, and navigating the seedy underbelly of a male-dominated music scene full of addiction, violence, and misogyny—all while keeping her sharp wit and dark humor intact.
Rimmed with heavy black eyeliner and smelling faintly of cheap booze, The Ballad of Speedball Baby is a pulse-quickening, unpredictable ride through the ’90s music scene—alternately terrifying, hilarious, and painfully evocative—as well as a love letter to the power of female solidarity.