Rat Girl

“Sensitive and emotionally raw… it’s also wildly funny”
The New York Times Sunday Book Review

“one of the 25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time”
Rolling Stone Magazine (#8)

“A thoroughly engrossing work by an original voice”
Kirkus (Starred Review)

Published by Penguin USA

Rat Girl

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4 Responses to Rat Girl

  1. brian morris says:

    the thing i find interesting about kristin hersh is everything. similarly, the thing i like about her is the whole shebang. it’s not often that a rockstar becomes one defying longer odds. it’s a story well-chronicled in her zany self-styled warts & all autobiography, RAT GIRL (a tumultuous year in the life of a pregnant teenage indie rock superstar in the making who also happens to be battling emotional catatonia all while helping to launch the epic career of post-punk kingpins, Throwing Muses) …….which i read this summer while dealing with my very own newfound bipolar demons. and warts. found a few o’ them, too. but let’s concentrate on hers, not mine. better yet, screw the warts……let’s focus instead on her absurdly twisted talents; and see how they might apply to her very impressive legacy-in-progress. or not. she was, after all, back on the road this summer w/ her messianic cult darling outfit, 50FootWave. while i (except for one brave night outside my festering cocoon) sat on my ass, read her book, and acted like i mattered in the bigger scheme of things. i don’t. but hersh does. and THAT she does her best work these days while ‘faking’ normalcy is a testament to both her brass and to the brilliant-camo-disguise she wears……thinly veiling the all-is-maybe-not-so-well-ness that makes you think she might fly off into orbit at the drop of a hi-hat. which, of course, makes for some perilously scrumptious rock & roll. (and what other kind is there, really, that’s worth writing about?) i know, cuz i was there…..front & center to her front & center in new london CT this past august AND feeling like i got backstage into her mind by virtue of having worn out my RAT GIRL in a matter of a few days that felt like i was on a joyride with one of our all-time great rock & roll treasures here in new england.

  2. I’m reading Rat Girl and I really really love it. It’s taking me all month. Which is weird because it’s short, but I’m in rehearsal right now (I produce, direct, and sometimes write plays in San Francisco) and I’m working a full time job too (because I live in San Francisco) and I’m looking for another one as well (because I hate the one I have) but it’s also taking me so long because I really think about almost every page as I read it and while I picked it up thinking it would be light and breezy, it’s really kind of heavy and profound. You have a lot of incredible observations and things to say about the creative process, about the people in your life, about that moment in your life, and I’m trying to absorb them all. Please don’t take this as patronizing, but I also find that I relate to so much of it and it reminds me so much of my own teens in the late ’90s (in Arizona, of all places), and my life as an aspiring artist, that I kind of just savor it all too. You’re such a tremendously good writer and I’m sure people say that to you all the time, but I really love this book and so I want to say that too. I love how you tell a story, and I particularly love how you capture your characters, particularly the way that they speak.

    Which brings me to the crazy and ridiculous part but… have you/would you ever consider letting this book be adapted into a play? Because you write in a way that should be spoken as well as read, and I’d love to hear these words come to life, and I think you’ve written a tale that, for as much as it belongs to you (and Tanya and Leslie and Dave and Betty), it’s also the story of so many people growing up in the last two decades of the 20th century, and as we’re all getting older and turning into our parents and in some ways vanishing, I’m feeling this enormous desire as an artist myself to save these stories and put them out there into circulation, to turn them into mythology. Partly because I want to say “We were here, the 20th century was real, and for a while there it was a really idealistic, fascinating time to be alive” and partly because I feel like it could really inspire and invigorate a new generation of artists who are growing up right now, going through the same fears and triumphs and failures and I want them to know that people like you exist. Also, I just think it’s a really good story and you’re a really good writer and it could be a lot of fun and interesting. Especially as a stage play, and not a film. There is a surrealness and a simple poetry to your writing that is ideal for stage, in my opinion.

    So… yeah? Anyone asked you for the film or stage rights for Rat Girl yet? And if they haven’t, are you interested in letting a relative nobody take a crack at a stage adaptation of the book? Maybe even a workshop production that ran for a few weeks in a small, 60 seat house in San Francisco somewhere where everybody got paid peanuts but we’d treat your work like gold? I’m not suggesting a juke box musical here by any means (though it could be interesting to talk about how music would or would not function in a theatrical version) and I know it must seem weird to think of actors playing the people in your life and, well, you… but… it’s a really good story. And this way it could be told again and again, by lots of different people, and each of them could make it their own, and get out of it what they needed to, and I know it’s asking a lot, to let your words and your life be interpreted by strangers, but maybe you see the appeal in spite of what a ridiculous proposal this is? There is so much potential here, I think, and the prospect really excites me in a way I haven’t been excited for quite some time.

    If not, that’s cool, I understand and I have no expectations at all. I mean, expect you to say no, or not to say anything at all. But I thought I should ask, so I could at least say that I had asked. 🙂

    Thank you so much for your work.

    Stuart Bousel

  3. Sophia Bondi says:

    Let me just say for the record, Rat Girl is the most wonderful piece of literature I have ever read in my whole entire life. The tales, the characters, the songs, each is a little bit of Kristin the strange screaming seagull angel mommy pouring heart huge heart out of a little body mistaken for a 13 year old (hey that’s how old I am! I swear you still look it). From the moment I set my eyes on the page I was in love with it. I highlighted favorite passages (basically the whole thing), and I smiled at the wonderful songs I know all too well. I always wondered about the Dripping Tree guy, what happened to him and was Dripping Trees inspired by that. It also made me want to go to Rhode Island, which I plan to do someday.

    Since the bindings of school kept me busy, I spent every other waking moment reading it. There were many obstacles that I would’ve bumped into if one of my friends hadn’t said “Sophia, your about to walk into that teacher” (“Sophia, you’re about to walk into Kristin Hersh” what, really? “Just kidding” oh. :0) I raved about it in book club, and I drew inspirational doodles (bottom one on the drawing- the one with the poofy hair.) then I discovered the magical Fish music video (I had heard the song before I saw the video) and I took me two tries to realize “hey, she’s very pregnant!” I also sneaked a couple peeks at some videos of Paradoxical Undressing live… And I hope that you will come to Seattle someday to do that too.

    All in all, Music’s my religion and Rat Girl’s my bible, those words are words to live by. You are so extremely talented in everything you do. When I sent you the pictures of us from the June 1st show, you responded with; “Keep smiling.” You too have the brightest smile in the world. I’ve read Rat Girl and many of your essays, and I swear, they bring me to tears. “Keep writing” (and making brilliant music of course)


  4. pgolde says:

    A little late to the party but I just read Rat Girl from start to finish, being that I was trapped in an aluminum tube at 40,000 feet for 12 hours. Last time I made this flight was pure misery, this time pure joy, happiness, sadness, most of all love. I have been saving this read since I bought the book a few months ago, waiting for a time I could be alone, with time for myself, what an amazing ride it was thank you so much.
    Born in Providence in 1965, I grew up with a passion for music, I was interested in reading this book as a RhoeDialander growing up about the same time as Miss Hersh, interested to know her path, how she came to make such great music. I grew up in Cranston, jamming with garage and basement cover bands, but some of the best talent I have seen, just couldn’t understand why waste such talent playing other peoples music? Kristen Hersh’s diary is gold, while taking me back, remembering those days and all the musical triumphs and (mostly) failures, she provides me a glimpse of what it really took to make it. Balls of steel this little girl had, courage, commitment to never suck. Thing is at the time, I would love to have been been at those early Muses shows in Providence, maybe I missed them by a year? Or maybe I was at some other show, Providence at the time had so many great things going on. When Kristen and Dave talk about music in the book, it could have been me and my friend Gary, word for word. We hated the top40 radio, but more we hated the “new” rock station playing corporate rock.
    I love the detail this book provides, not only on Kristen’s amazing story, but on the scene in Providence. I can literally smell the clubs while reading. The layers of the audience in front of her described perfectly.
    I laughed out loud on the plane in front of strangers while reading, I also shed a tear a few times, but not while reading about her hit and run, that was cool to read. I loved the stories about Dude and Betty as told through the POV of a brilliant 18 yr old.
    I found what I was looking for in this book, how she and her band were able to do what they did, and the difference is in her upbringing. Her amazing parents, perfect advice from an ex hollywood star, and a witch on a mission.
    I also love the quote by FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY selected to open, I know this to be true, but I prefer to change the word “sick” to “gifted”. I am not so sure those with the “gift” would agree, but that is because they have not been taught to master it, a lost art these days.

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