This book could be considered a plural autobiography, in that it focuses on telling the story of many different lives within one multiple system and was written by many different people within that system. In fact, the byline is one of the things that makes this book remarkable: as far as I know, it is the only published book on this or any subject that was written by people in a multiple system and given credit on the front cover as such.

When Rabbit Howls is, however, a remarkable book in many other ways. It is not told from the first person perspective normal to autobiographies, but from the third, narrated as if by the traditional omniscient narrator used in many novels. This works well for the subject matter, serving to give the reader some distance from the sometimes traumatic events in the book. It also serves as a sort of metaphor for the experiences of the actual narrators.

It is often the case, especially with very co-conscious systems, that before they realize they are multiple everyone identifies with the body name. That is, everyone assumes they themselves are Truddi, so the overall experience is not that there are several (or several hundred) different people living their lives in this body named Truddi, but that "I am Truddi, and I just happen to be feeling really political or very young today." With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the narrators describe a woman - "the woman" - who is like a nodeshell (thanks, myriad!) in that everyone is softlinked through her and any node could take the front. The woman is like a group identity, the group consciousness, never certain whether she is her own person or merely a combination of whoever is out. By all writing this book together, sharing their memories and awareness of what was going on to talk about each other, themselves, and "the woman," the Troops recreate this experience.

In their own words:

For every statement I make to you, pointing out that or any viewpoint, I can give you twenty more, all in conflict with each other. They all belong to me and none of them belongs to me....

Another unusual aspect to this book is that the subjects do not, and do not want to, integrate. There are many books about multiples (like Broken Child) that portray integration as a necessary solution to a dreadful existence, and many others (like The Flock) that portray it as one possible and unwanted solution which the system in question nonetheless ends up with. The Troops entirely reject the idea of integrating and instead work together toward healthy lives and sharing their space creatively, and share a little of that with the reader at the end of the book.

As Liza of the Myriad remarked, "The multiplicity presented (in When Rabbit Howls)is not the same old thing, it is very intricate and similar to me and a lot of people I know. And it just introduces so much more to the mainstream stuff on it. The system just seemed so vital, so real, compared to the cookiecutter multiples with the same same stories. They told the story together, they had many different voices, they really got across something of what it was like for them. They didn't feel like they had to adopt this really ... um... transparent tone. The other books i've read have tried to make multiplicity such a straightforward thing. and When Rabbit Howls didn't, and I like that."

Perhaps that is the book's most outstanding quality: its ability to show the reader, here and there, what it's really like. Every multiple system I've talked to who has read this book saw themselves reflected in the pages, and for each system they were different pages. It's like Multiple Personality Disorder From the Inside Out, except that the latter often takes a certain self-pitying tone, whereas When Rabbit Howls just tells it like it is.

For myself (or ourselves), the passages that stood out the most were observations like:

"She was still unaware that before some Troop members evidenced fully to each other, they exchanged gossip, solace and warlike barbs, each one believing that all thoughts belonged to him- or herself."
"I love the jeans, they're more comfortable when we film. But today, I don't understand why, I felt determined to be feminine."

For me, these passages stand out as illustrating the everyday truths of my existence - the sense I used to have of not knowing why my gender identity or perspective changed from day to day, the internal dialogues I thought were monologues, which now are just a part of the communication between people in our system. They explain it better than I usually can; in fact, the kids in here marked passages like that (and some for which I just don't understand the reasoning!) with arrow-shaped stickers all the way through the book.

When Rabbit Howls / by The Troops / for Truddi Chase (as the cover says) was published in 1987 and shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, as many books by and about multiples have done - although this particular book was #1 on the list for some time. Rumors abound that they have been working on another book for several years; we can only hope it's true.

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