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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,663 ratings  ·  150 reviews

Winner of the Nordic Prize in Literature, acclaimed Swedish novelist Sara Stridsberg makes her American debut with Valerie, conjuring the life and mind of 1960s firebrand, American feminist, and author of the SCUM manifesto, Valerie Solanas.

In April 1988, Valerie Solanas—the writer, radical feminist, and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol—was discovered dead at fifty-two

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 20th 2006)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Fierce and foul, one of the most confronting books I’ve read in quite some time, The Faculty of Dreams (aka Valerie) is a novel about Valerie Solanas, the woman who wrote the SCUM Manifesto and shot Andy Warhol.

Except it isn’t, not really. It’s much more complex than that. This is not a biography, neither is it a straightforward fictionalised account of Solanas’ life. The author describes it as a ‘literary fantasy’. It warps and distorts the biographical details, it is disorienting and
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2019
Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2019
edited 9 April - I can't believe this one missed out on the shortlist!!

This is a vibrant, visceral reimagining of the life and legacy of Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist whose 15 minutes of notoriety came in 1968 when she shot and almost killed Andy Warhol.

Stridsberg gets her disclaimer in from the start: "The Faculty of Dreams is not a biography, it is a literary fantasy derived from the life and work of Valerie Solanas, American, now
Ova - Excuse My Reading
This was so difficult to read.

It's nightmarish - there's a tonne of disturbing content in it. But on the other hand- the way it's written is mesmerising. you cannot drop the book. You swirl into the story- although it makes you uncomfortable.

I want to avoid saying I liked it- because I kind of hated it, but I loved it. Does this make sense?
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: 2019 International Booker Longlist
I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. I would have steered clear of it if I hadn't pledged to read all of this year's International Booker longlist. At best, I thought I would have a grudging respect for the book in all its grimness.

Valerie Solanas had an exceptionally tough life, as her attorney explains in the novel:

FLORYNCE KENNEDY: On June 10, 1968 I was appointed public defense counsel in the case New York State versus Valerie Solanas. I described Valerie as one of the most
Paul Fulcher
I’m sorry I missed. It was immoral to miss. I should have done more target practice.

I think you are the saddest girl I have ever met. There are no paths in the dark. There is nothing to tell. I cannot tell you how sad I am. I cannot talk about it. It is not possible to think outside your thoughts.
The narrator

Book 11/13 from the Man Booker International and my favourite so far.

'The Faculty of Dreams: Amendment to the Theory of Sexuality OR Valerie' has been translated by Deborah
When you read a quote unquote highbrow book, the impulse (at least for me) is usually to try to write a quote unquote highbrow review. Because there isn't much dignity in reading an intelligent book like Valerie (published as The Faculty of Dreams in the UK) and dismissing it with pedestrian critique, but whatever, I'm going to do it anyway. I found this both boring and deeply annoying.

I can never really figure out what I want from novels which fictionalize the lives of real people. Because my
MJ Nicholls
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Antonomasia
Valerie Solanas, known for the chuckle-packed S.C.U.M Manifesto (pre-feminist prescience or pseudo-intellectual terrorism, choose one) and for putting a bullet into talentless human mop Andy Warhol, is taken on with a rollicking scabrousness and strange compassion in this Swedish novel first published in 2006. In a series of short chapters, alternating between fictional dialogues with Valerie and the narrator, her mother, her head quacks and her lovers, and ruminative and inventive imaginings of ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-mbi, 2019
The Faculty of Dreams is not a biography, it is a literary fantasy derived from the life and work of Valerie Solanas, American, now deceased. Few facts are known about Valerie Solanas and even to those this novel is not faithful. All characters in the novel should therefore be regarded as fictional, including Valerie Solanas herself.

This also applies to the map of America, there being no deserts in Georgia.

As I went into this book, I knew the name “Valerie Solanas” and I knew she was famous for
Well, wow. This has gotten so many 5 star reviews and I'm hesitating between 1 and 2... I really fail to see what's so great about this book.

Even though this was written in Swedish, I felt like I was reading a poorly translated book the entire time. I had to keep telling myself that no, this is actually a Swedish book. I know it's set in the US (speaking of which, is the misspelling of the birthplace of Valerie intentional?) and that it's very American in general, but the linguistic Americanism
Eric Anderson
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first became aware of Valerie Solanas amidst my teenage obsession with Andy Warhol. During this period I loved reading books by and about Warhol as I was entranced by how this nerdy awkward kid of Polish descent from Pittsburgh grew to be the famed leader of an art movement. Solanas was one of the interlopers who frequented Andy’s factory and starred in one of his films, but in 1968 Solanas shot Warhol and almost killed him. Her story was brilliantly realised by Lili Taylor in the 1996 film I ...more
Claire Fuller
Fractured and feverish, this novel which imagines the life and thoughts of Valerie Solanas (famous for shooting Warhol and writing the SCUM Manifesto), took me deep into the head of a very troubled woman. There are scenes from Valerie's childhood, university life, the time she ran away to the coast, her periods in a mental institution, in court, and on her deathbed in a seedy hotel in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. It's often hard to read, difficult to orientate oneself, jumbled and ...more
This is the 9th of the 13 books on the 2019 MBI longlist that I have read. I am placing it second on my list, but it is very close to 1st. 4.5* rounded up to 5*.

This novel is a fictional biography of Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot but failed to kill Andy Warhol in 1968. The review by Neil ( and Paul ( provide a superb description of the structure of the novel, meaning I do not have to try. As Hugh notes in his
Seema Rao
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant ~ Layered ~ Intellectual

tl:dr: Our fifteen minutes of fame can feel like a lifetime for some.

I've never wanted to read Swedish more than today when I finished up this book. This book is probably one of those classical described as literary. While the book isn't terribly long, you will want to pour over some of the languages. The text is layered and complex. There were moments when I was totally lost and had to start again. But, in some ways, that only made the book stronger.

The book
I remember reading The SCUM Manifesto in the early 80’s for a Psychology of Women class. I remember being stunned, repulsed and intrigued. I remember a lot of us were. We could not stop talking about it and her and our own stories. That class changed my life. Valerie was a big part of that.

Reading this book at work last month a co-worker says “oh, SCUM! My professor read that to us on orientation day at CED@ Berkeley.” A man in his early 30’s who, it turns out, agrees with a lot of SCUM’s
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is about Valerie Solanas who grounded SCUM (SOciety for Cutting Up Men) and shot Andy Warhol. It's about her past, her present, and the future lying ahead of her.

This book may be one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. It's full of both hidden and obvious poetry. Meanwhile it draws you into the history of a sad soul (Valerie Solanas), and how she handles her background.
Though I'm frustrated to read how roughly she abuses her intelligence, but at the same time impressed to
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and atmospheric book that mixes historical characters and facts turning them into something that reminds me of a feverish dream.
It's a very challenging and complex novel, not an easy read, but at the same time one those book you keep on reading because you're fascinated by the prose and what you're reading.
I don't know if it's the translation or the style of the writer but I couldn't stop reading even if this totally out of my comfort zone.
I read about Valerie Solanas, the
Tom Mooney
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the painful, distressing, sad story of the life of Valerie Solanas, made famous as the author of the SCUM manifesto and shooter of Andy Warhol.

Told in the form of a mosaic, jumping between the key moments in her life - her childhood, time in mental institutions, the courtroom and her deathbed - it is initially a difficult novel to get ahold of. I felt like I was grasping at thin air for 100 pages. But once things start to fall into place it is a very rewarding read.

The whole thing left
Elena Sala
Sara Stridsberg is a Swedish writer whose project seems to be, according to Lilian Rösing, "the ‘rehabilitation’ of unpopular, or at least suspect and criticisable, women – whether they be actual historical people or fictional characters."
THE FACULTY OF DREAMS (2007) centers on the radical American feminist, Valerie Solanas, famed for her SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto and her attempt to kill Andy Warhol. It is not a biography, but “a literary fantasy” based on Solanas’ life and
Sidharth Vardhan

"....but being unloved is an act of terror."

"Valerie. Marilyn. Roslyn. Ulrike. Sylvia. Dorothy. Cosmogirl. A kind of insane genius. She has lost her marbles. That means we will wipe out her memories. Electroshock, injections, straitjackets, Elmhurst."

Probably one of best books I have read in this year. I hadn heard about Valerie Solane before this book. If you are someone who is moved by anguish of likes of Marilyn Munro, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath; I will highly recommend this book - it
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
This is the story about Valerie Solanas, intelligent, witty feminist and author of the SCUM Manifesto, but she became famous for shooting at Andy Warhol. The narrative takes place in various timelines and in various narrative techniques, some of the chapters are written even only in dialogues which gives a feeling that you are reading the play or script. Focus is on some of the most important events in Valerie’s life that brought her to the self-destructive behavior and the author connects this ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, netgalley, 2019
I'm asking myself what the reason for this book is. Did the author just want to make us readers gag throughout the book?

It was quite disturbing and crude. Every third sentence describes something including vomit, urin, blood or a sexual reference. The writing feels like someone rambling high on drugs. Is that really necessary?

Why would I like reading weird metaphors á la "the mirror is a foul-smelling stranger".

I also didn't like the dialogue written out. It felt very abrupt and I prefer a
Brilliant, tragic, insane and beautiful. Filled with humour and wit. Mindfuck mind-blown. I think that I have lost the capability to write full sentences after reading this book so I am not going to attempt to write a full review. I'm going to stop now.
What does it matter if the narrator lies? What does it matter who tells the story? p57
There is no reason to tell the truth when it is so easy to lie. p218
Everything is made up. p282

The problem with this philosophy is that it will lead to grave trouble and an inauthentic self who will eventually become so mired in deception that meaning becomes meaningless. To lie is to attempt to be free of the truth, but lies can obscure, entangle,refute or flee from the truth but never set the liar free. Lies
Book Wormy
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read
#ManBookerInternationalLongList2019 Book 5/13

Interesting look at the life of an infamous feminist who I knew nothing about.

Full review here
Lolly K Dandeneau
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
'A heart full of black flies. The loneliness of a desert. Landscape of stones. Cowboys. Wild mustangs. An alphabet of bad experiences.'

Everything reaches it’s end, certainly Valerie Solanas reached her’s in a sad hotel room “last stop for dying whores and junkies”, and with this creative novel Sara Stridsberg brings her back to life, in the only way writers can, through exploring her past and freely using creative imagination. Valerie Jean Solanas, feminist and author of The SCUM Manifesto shot
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Valerie oh Valerie! So many conflicting emotions while reading this one. Which I think was the author's intent, and she mastered it beautifully. Valerie suffered from mental illness. I felt like i was in Valerie's mind experiencing the stream of consciousness right along with her. It wasn't just that you read a ramble. However, it was an experience in real time of what Valerie was thinking, feeling, and how she processed it.

At times, reading her ideology was very difficult. She was a certified
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had not heard of Valerie Solanas or the SCUM manifesto, so my rating is based on the book as fiction.
The book tells the story of a woman's messed up life, in a series of episodes from her early life and end of life, plus interviews and musings. It is very well written and deserves its place on the prize list. It did not leave me with any wish to read more about the real Valerie Solanas or her manifesto, but I did check the translation of solanas; it means the sun or a sunny place in Spanish
Kasa Cotugno
This is an example of experimental literature at its most audacious. Subject matter, that of the life of Valerie Solanas, who gained notoriety when she attempted to murder Andy Warhol after he rejected a play she'd written. He never fully recovered, and neither did she. Weaving in and out of time, shifting between the filthy Tenderloin hotel room in which she died in 1988, her early life, and the events of 1968, this novel teeters between the unreadable and the brilliant, but it is the subject ...more
Ken Fredette
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought I would see how Sara Stridsberg would handle Valerie and it turned out quite like I thought it would. Her abuse by her father figure, led by her mother going out to serve drinks as a bartender and leaving them together each night. Then her reaction when he left them. It goes on and on that Valerie considered herself a whore from the age of 7. She had the ability to get good grades in school but she had a mouth that didn't quit. She would have been less of a character but she shot Andy ...more
Shira Selkovits
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Faculty of Dreams - Pub date March 21, 2019

My rating reflects my admiration for this book even more than my enjoyment of it. It's a semi-fictional novel about the life of Valerie Solanas - famous for writing the SCUM manifesto in 1967, giving rise to radical feminism, and for shooting Andy Warhol in 1968.

This book is written in a very experimental style, which at times I loved and at other times I loathed. The narrative weaves back and forth in time through series of dialogue and
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Sara Stridsberg is a Swedish author and translator. Her first fiction novel, Happy Sally, was about Sally Bauer, the first Scandinavian to swim the English Channel.

In 2007, she was awarded the Nordic Council's Literature Prize for her novel Drömfakulteten (The Dream Faculty), which is her second novel and a fictitious story about Valerie Solanas, who wrote the SCUM manifesto, which Stridsberg has
“Hon fortsätter att vara död. Hon kommer alltid att vara död. Hon är den enda jag tänker på.” 1 likes
“Det går inte att tänka utanför tankarna.” 1 likes
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