Doony, Ryder, Wyatt, Bodhi. The names of Kristin Hersh’s sons are the only ones included in her new memoir, Seeing Sideways. As the book unfolds and her sons’ voices rise from its pages, it becomes clear why: these names tell the story of her life.
This story begins in 1990, when Hersh is the leader of the indie rock group Throwing Muses, touring steadily, and the mother of a young son, Doony. The chapters that follow reveal a woman and mother whose life and career grow and change with each of her sons: the story of a custody battle for Doony is told alongside that of Hersh’s struggles with her record company and the resulting PTSD; the tale of breaking free from her record label stands in counterpoint to her recounting of her pregnancy with Ryder; a period of writer’s block coincides with the development of Wyatt as an artist and the family’s loss of their home; and finally, soon after Bodhi’s arrival, Hersh and her boys face crises from which only strange angels can save them. Punctuated with her own song lyrics, Seeing Sideways is a memoir about a life strange enough to be fiction, but so raw and moving that it can only be real.