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Throwing Muses
Book Review

Rat Girl: A Memoir

Throwing Muses, bipolar disorder, pregnancy, & Betty Hutton.

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Rat Girl

Kristin Hersh

August 31, 2010

Rat Girl: A Memoir (Penguin Books) follows a year in the life of Kristin Hersh, founder of the band Throwing Muses. The memoir documents Kristin’s life as she comes to terms with her bipolar diagnosis while gaining popularity with her band. The book flows a lot like I imagine bipolar disorder would. It has parts of mania, where the writing is long and only broken up by random song lyrics. Then there are the depressed sections where the pages aren’t full and neither are the thoughts.

Kristin gives us glimpses of what it was like growing up with two hippie parents, who preferred she called them “Dude” and “Crane”. Dude was a professor and introduced her to famous movie star of the 1940s, Betty Hutton, whom she would take college classes with as a friend despite the age gap. Kristin also details discovering her pregnancy and how she came to her decision of how to address it. She takes the reader along as she figures out how to play guitar with lithium tremors, going off medication during pregnancy, and how she sees sound.

Kristin often hears songs that other people cannot. She can’t get them out of her head until she learns them and eventually shares them with her bandmates. This might sound like an awesome gift, but she details the insomnia, paranoia, and ultimate disturbance that they cause her.

This book does a great job at combining music, nuisances of life, mental illness, pregnancy, and school in a colloquial read. I give this book 9 rats out of 10.

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