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Breanne Fahs' Valerie Solanas

I once heard it said that Valerie Solanas represented the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe of radical feminism. As is the case with a number of radical feminists from this period, Solanas was deeply troubled. Having suffered from abuse at an early age, resorted intermittently to prostitution, and suffered from obvious mental health problems for which she received little or inadequate help, she ended up shooting Andy Warhol, spending time in a psychiatric ward, and sleeping rough, her main claim to fame being a rant (well written, but impossible to take seriously) and an attempted celebrity murder. In a way, it's an argument for universal healthcare. What Fahs' biography highlights are the problems of writing about the life of an outsider, an unreliable narrator among mostly other unreliable narrators, who left few reliable records behind, except whatever was produced by the police or the hospitals Solanas passed through, if accessible. The account ends up relying on the subjective anecdotes and correspondence of those who knew the subject, or met her, who were of a colourful sort, to say the least (for example, her publisher—oh, my). The obscurity, extremity, and nebulousness of the subject would have made the project all the more challenging and fascinating, especially to someone sympathetic to Solanas. Obviously written by an admirer, but, to her credit, the author tells it warts and all.

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