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Rat Girl: A Memoir Paperback – Bargain Price, August 31, 2010
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-Mary Gaitskill, author of Veronica and Don't Cry
"Funny, freaky, fidgety, Hersh's memoir is the book a fan didn't dare hope for: a beacon in a dark field, illuminating the mysterious and the mundane. Beautifully, honestly, written and as close as you will ever get to being in a Throwing Muses song."
-Wesley Stace, author of Misfortune and By George
"Ultra-vivid writing and intense honesty is what you'd expect from Kristin Hersh, one of America's finest songwriters. But Rat Girl is also a startlingly funny and touching memoir of her mid-Eighties moment as the bi- polar, pregnant, intermittently homeless frontwoman of a rising indie-rock band. It's a gripping journey into mental chaos and out the other side."
-Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84
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Top Customer Reviews
The cover may be black, but you won't find a single stitch of black in the content. Don't ask me to assign it another. In the opening pages of her book, Hersh mentions that colors splashed across a canvas are all too quiet. The book, like her music, is vibrant. Chords have color. Her favorite color is green.
"Every time I think I'm done, I pick another song out of the chaos in the air. There songs're keeping me alive so they can be alive."
Despite following her story from one spring to the next (1985), it reads free from the trappings of time. Each part is oddly permanent, as if it exists in space, waiting to be played again.
This makes for an interesting narrative. Instead of relying on seamless transitions, Hersh ties stories together by lines of inspired lyrics and, occasionally, relevant 3- to 5-paragraph memories from her early childhood. It's also loaded with wit that will make you smile. It's as celebratory as her music. And in between some sad notes, expect to laugh out loud. Frequently.
Hersh's writing about being bipolar is extremely powerful and moving. Through her words, the reader experiences what it feels like for her during her powerful manic states. After reading this book I feel as if Kristin is a close friend, one who has shared her insights and muses with me.
I became familiar with Hersh's body of work later in life . Although often challenging and difficult , her music was so raw and honest you couldn't help but admiring her . Her recently released memoir took me back again to that time when music meant the world . Hersh was an outsider in school herself , one who made great music and was happy doing just that and nothing more . Her wandering around in deserted houses for a sleep-over , walks on a beach with a friend , college corridors and , later in the book , recording studios and especially her interactions with bandmates Narcizo , Langstone and step-sister Donelly ring so true and unspoiled . Her blurry thoughts about her writing process and songs resemble a lot to the feelings indie kids have for the music they love but find it impossible to express or pin down .
Unlike disastrous efforts like let's say Sting's " Broken Music " , this is truly how a music memoir should be . Hersh herself , now a mother of 4 and still producing special , complicated records , has long outgrown the book and like she says , this is a potrait of a girl she once was , not of who she is today as a person . Still it was so refreshing for me to travel in her little time-capsule and recall how innocent and dark it all was in that tender , vulnerable age .
Kristin's "Rat Girl" focuses on a year in the life of a freakishly-talented and proudly-odd teenage girrrl and successfully escapes the shackles of drudgery that the autobiography can impose--all those dates, and odious facts! Instead, Hersh creates art out of life, art out of the essence of a lived experience. After all, "Art is seduction," writes Susan Sontag in her essay "On Style." "But art cannot seduce without the complicity of the experiencing subject."
Hersh takes her insights and weaves them in with the craft of the gifted lyricist that she is. According to the reviewer in Booklist, "Song lyrics and diary entries mix with Hersh's memories, which read more like poetic, sometimes satiric impressions rather than traditional autobiography.... Hersh presents a refreshingly raw, insightful, and singular coming-of-age story."
Again, Hersh is a free-wheeling memoirist not an autobiographer of a life viewed from the illusion of objective taxonomist.
I was lucky to first meet Kirstin through her "hippie philosopher" father while conducting research at Brown University (in Providence, RI). Seeing her that spring morning with her brand new baby and then watching her perform late into the night was something she made seem perfectly "normal.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
On rare occasions, a musician's autobiography will enrich their music, and make it that more special and dear. This is one of those occasions. Read morePublished 4 days ago by francois larrivee
Amazing story of young woman with a brilliant mind and incredible courage. She helped create some of the best rock music every recorded, inspired some of the last best rock to be... Read morePublished 2 months ago by angryandroid
Best. Memoir. Ever.
She writes well and her story is one worth sharing. If you're thinking of buying it, just go ahead and add it to your cart. You will not regret it.
Started brilliantly, I laughed so hard it hurt. Some great insights, too, but slowed down in last chapters. I recommend it.Published 7 months ago by Charlie B
The prose is great, but the dialogue is awful. It sounds like it was written for the author, not the audience. The snippets of poetry seemed self-indulgent as well. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Paul D MacLeod
Book was an interesting read, but I think it needs to be made clear that this is the same book as Paradoxical Undressing. Read morePublished 13 months ago by vacuum queen
I was laughing before I finished the first chapter. Wonderful artists even better writer.Published 13 months ago by Clark
This is a fine memoir. A solid piece of writing and a deeply funny and empathic story. Kristin reveals just the right amount of personal detail -- enough to lay out the... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mark Handy