Pissed Off: On Women and Anger
by Spike Gillespie
Seal Press, 257 pp., $14.95 (paper)
"So what is forgiveness, if not some religious command that we let people stomp on us as we smile politely and allow them to do it?"
Austin writer Spike Gillespie's third book, Pissed Off: On Women and Anger, is not just a book about anger; it is a book about blind, incandescent rage, a rage so profound and uncontrollable that it once forced her 13-year-old son into a panic attack.
In her introduction, Gillespie, describing an unpublished trilogy she wrote, explains, "No one wanted to represent the book because, I was informed, no one would want to buy a book about a woman who was so pissed off." It's true. Anger, in general, is a turnoff. Who wants to read the angry stories of a fortysomething South Jersey native?
In this case? Women. Women with histories of anger brought on by years of abuse delivered by scores of mistreating men. In Pissed Off, Gillespie gives a very detailed account of her lifetime sources of anger, the most pronounced being her rancorous, abusive father; nine siblings; stalker ex-husband; and an endless sea of back-stabbing lovers (most notable was the man who, among other unforgivable acts, withheld sex from her each time she beat him at Scrabble). Gillespie also recounts years of alcohol abuse and a bond with her son held together solidly by love.
Interspersed throughout Gillespie's narrative are other women's short accounts on their own experiences with rage, anger, and forgiveness. To those who have never experienced this type of raw anger, it is difficult to identify with and all too easy to dismiss these women as hysterical sexists in need of serious therapy and a healthy dose of stoicism. Yet Gillespie's honest narration is captivating, and she offers a fascinating history of the wondrous emotion that is anger. Even more inspiring are the author's described struggles with forgiveness and peace in her adult life.
Spike Gillespie will be at BookPeople on June 22 at 7pm.