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Breanne Fahs is an associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University, a practicing clinical psychologist, and the author Performing Sex and The Moral Panics of Sexuality.

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Valerie Solanas

The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM (and Shot Andy Warhol)
Breanne Fahs

Too drastic, too crazy, too “out there,” too early, too late, too damaged, too much—Valerie Solanas has been dismissed but never forgotten. She has become, unwittingly, a figurehead for women’s unexpressed rage, and stands at the center of many worlds. She inhabited Andy Warhol’s Factory scene, circulated among feminists and the countercultural underground, charged men money for conversation, despised “daddy’s girls,” and outlined a vision for radical gender dystopia.

Known for shooting Andy Warhol in 1968 and for writing the polemical diatribe SCUM Manifesto, Solanas is one of the most famous women of her era. SCUM Manifesto—which predicted ATMs, test-tube babies, the internet, and artificial insemination long before they existed—has sold more copies, and has been translated into more languages, than nearly all other feminist texts of its time.

Shockingly little work has interrogated Solanas’s life. This book is the first biography about Solanas, including original interviews with family, friends (and enemies), and numerous living Warhol associates. It reveals surprising details about her life: the children nearly no one knew she had, her drive for control over her own writing and copyright, and her elusive personal and professional relationships.

Valerie Solanas addresses how this era changed the world, and depicts an iconic figure whose life is at once tragic and remarkable.

Valerie Solanas finally provides an in-depth, decade-spanning history of Valerie’s life, including mid-teen pregnancies, anti-essentialist college newspaper rebuttals, SCUM lectures, Up Your Ass casting calls, transience, letters of grammatical corrections to Majority Report, a continual emphasis from various sources on Valerie’s intelligence, radicalism, humor, comedic improve timing, and intensity, and thorough discussions of her work dismantling and repudiating sexuality, gender, morality, marriage, the money system, and the patriarchal status quo.”

—Natt Ann Carrera, singer/musician

“This compelling biography shows the complexity of Valerie Solanas, placing her in the context of so many later-twentieth-century cultural realities-the commodity explosion of the art world, nuclear family damage and dysfunction, emergent baby-boomer generation narcissism, and the complicated internal struggles of the feminist movement.”

—Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art

"Rather than focusing on the Warhol shooting, Fahs gives a refreshing degree of weight to not only SCUM Manifesto—and its contribution to the birth of radical feminism—but also to Solanas’s earlier writings and creative pursuits, such as her playwriting and attempts at publishing in periodicals. Fahs, who interviewed her subject’s family, friends, enemies, as well as Warhol associates, doesn’t shy away from how hated and feared Solanas was by many feminists of the era, such as Betty Friedan, but she portrays Solanas as melancholy, warm, and emotionally broken, as well as violent and combative. While some characters pop up and drop away depending on their relevance to Solanas’s life in the moment, giving a disjointed feel to the narrative, Fahs ably fills a notable gap in feminist history with this accessible volume."

—Publishers Weekly

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