Pissed Off:
On Women and Anger

by Spike Gillespie


Seal Press, 2006. ISBN 1580051626.
Reviewed by Stephanie Barko
Posted on 10/12/2006

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Cultural/Gender Focus; Nonfiction: Relationships

If you grew up with an angry parent, this book will sound familiar. You may see yourself between the lines if you've run away from a discordant home. Anger is not only our power, but also our teacher, and the author has been on intimate terms with her subject for a very long time.

Pissed Off is the third book of Spike Gillespie, whose rage-aholic father set her up for a fiery life with All the Wrong Men (her first book). Although Pissed Off is the author's memoir, short essays are interspersed throughout it from other women writers who diversify the author's powerlessness and fear by their own stories. The book is divided into three sections—Part I, where anger begins, Part II, where anger festers, and Part III, where anger yields to forgiveness. Spike leads us through road rage, spiteful colleagues, manipulative bosses, cruel in-laws, and an addicted spouse on her way to meeting forgiveness. With clarity and directness, we travel from New Jersey to Texas, where the author realizes that her father's anger is still running her life, even as he is slipping into Alzheimer's. "I don't know what made [my father] so angry so long ago, but I'm done letting his anger rule my life—and I feel bad for him whatever it was that took him down." The author, who is known for her bumper stickers, might print "mellow with age instead of rage" as this book's adage. We would do well to read it and heed it.

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