Rat Girl

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Rat Girl
Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh.jpeg
Cover of US edition
AuthorKristin Hersh
CountryUnited States
PublisherPenguin Books
Publication date

Rat Girl is a memoir published in 2010 by Penguin Books and written by Kristin Hersh, a guitarist, songwriter, and singer who has performed as a solo artist, and as guitarist/lead singer of the alternative rock band Throwing Muses.[1] In the U.K., it was released with the alternate title Paradoxical Undressing.


The book chronicles a year (1985–1986) in her life during which time Throwing Muses gained fame, signed a recording contract with 4AD, and recorded their eponymous debut album, Throwing Muses.[2] Other notable subjects discussed at length in the work are Hersh's friendship with actress Betty Hutton, her much-publicized[3] battle with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and hospitalization, her pregnancy with her first child, and the experience of the band in the local music scenes in Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts at the time.

The book provides further insight into Hersh's songwriting process, the internal dynamics within Throwing Muses in its first incarnation, and Hersh's childhood, including interaction with poet Allen Ginsberg[4] and mythologist Joseph Campbell.


Rat Girl was greeted warmly by critics upon release. Rob Sheffield described it in The New York Times Sunday Book Review as "Sensitive and emotionally raw… it’s also wildly funny".[2] In a starred review in Kirkus Reviews it is described as a "thoroughly engrossing work by an original voice".[5]

In 2012 Rolling Stone ranked it number 8 in their list of The 25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time.[6]


  1. ^ Price, Holly Cara (31 August 2010). "Kristin Hersh on Her New Book, "Rat Girl"". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob (8 August 2010). "Punk Days". New York Times Sunday Book Review. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  3. ^ Ali, Lorriane (7 May 1994). "Solo's Fine for Kristin Hersh, but She Likes Having Muses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  4. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole (16 January 2011). "Paradoxical Undressing by Kristin Hersh – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Rat Girl: A Memoir". Kirkus Reviews. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  6. ^ Sheffield, Rob (13 August 2012). "The 25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 July 2015.