Hell Is Other People

Remember Kate Millett? She made the cover of Time in 1970 after her dissection of literary machismo, Sexual Politics, became a blockbuster best-seller and won her the title of leading feminist spokesperson.

It didn't last. Although she was married, she soon announced that she was a lesbian, which split the women's movement and destroyed her superstar status. Thereafter came two rambling autobiographical books, and a series of liberal causes that finally got her expelled from Iran for trying to stir up the Ayatollah's docile female population.

During this time she also suffered from manic depression and was committed twice by family members. She emerged from the hospital dependent on the drug Lithium to balance her moods, only to make the ironic discovery that balanced moods are inimical to creativity. Lithium slows the thought process and represses brain activity, which interfered with her writing, while its side effect of hand tremors interfered with her sculpting and painting.

In the early 80's, Millett decided to go off Lithium and take her chances. This harrowing, often unbearable book is the story of what happened to her when she tried to buck a system and an era that have declared war on self-reliance.

Trying to go cold turkey while running an artists' colony and feminist commune on her upstate New York farm, she was thwarted at every turn by the bevy of...

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