Book Festival Review: Kristin Hersh – Throwing Muses Lead Singer on Surviving Mental Illness
Book Festival Review: Hazel Jessiman
Kristin Hersh is the singer and songwriter for American indie band Throwing Muses. Her recent autobiography centres on a particularly tumultuous period of her life: by age fourteen she was playing in rock clubs and living out of her car, then was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder; she subsequently underwent treatment and medication for her illness, and then finally fell pregnant.
Hersh refused to follow many other celebrities by using a ghost writer – her book is instead taken directly from the diaries she kept at the time. She wrote every word herself, recalling intimate conversations and painting for her readers the whirlwind of images and illusions caused by her condition. Her songs manifest themselves through colours in her mind, and she takes no responsibility for them – they present themselves to her.
She speaks candidly and openly about her mental illness. She accepts it as a part of her, rather than a curse. Her light-hearted frankness could almost make the listener forget that mental illness is usually a very taboo topic. To hear her describe her bi-polar disorder is both refreshing and poetic.
Hersh has clearly made the leap from songwriter to writer extremely easily, and her transition to public speaker is equally smooth. In discussing both her songs and her writing, she comes across as extremely modest and humble, as if she has no idea why people are drawn to her and what she produces. It is actually this humility that makes her most appealing and delightful to listen to.