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Dance the Eagle to Sleep: A Novel Paperback – December 30, 2011
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Originally published in 1970, Marge Piercy’s second novel follows the lives of four teenagers, in a near-future society, as they rebel against a military draft and “the system.” The occupation of Franklin High School begins, and with it, the open rebellion of America’s youth against their channeled, unrewarding lives and the self-serving, plastic society that directs them.
From the disillusionment and alienation of the young at the center of the revolt, to their attempts to build a visionary new society, the nationwide following they gain and the brutally complete repression that inevitably follows, this is a future fiction without a drop of fantasy. As driving, violent, and nuanced today as it was 40 years ago, this anniversary edition includes a new introduction by the author reflecting unapologetically on the novel and the times from which it emerged.
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“Dance the Eagle to Sleep bears a strong family resemblance, in kind and quality, to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and to Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. It would be no surprise to see it become, like these others, a totem and legend of the young.”
“Dance the Eagle to Sleep is a vision, not an argument… It is brilliant. Miss Piercy was a published poet before she resorted to the novel, exploiting its didactic aspect, and her prose crackles, depolarizes, sends shivers leaping across the synaptic cleft. The ‘eagle’ is America, bald and all but extinct. The ‘dance’ is performed by the tribal young, the self-designated ‘Indians,’ after their council meetings, to celebrate their bodies and their escape from the cannibalizing ‘system.’ The eagle isn’t danced to sleep; it sends bombers to devastate the communes of the young… What a frightening, marvelous book!”
—New York Times
“It’s so good I don’t even know how to write a coherent blurb. It tore me apart. It’s one of the first really honest books this country has ever produced. In lesser hands it would’ve been just another propaganda pamphlet, but in Marge Piercy’s it’s an all-out honest-to-God novel, humanity and love hollering from every sentence and the best set of characters since, shit I dunno, Moby Dick or something. At a time when nearly every other novelist is cashing in on masturbation fantasies, the superhip college bullshit stored up in their brains, even on the revolution itself, here is somebody with the guts to go into the deepest core of herself, her time, her history, and risk more than anybody else has so far, just out of a love for the truth and a need to tell it. It’s about fucking time.”
—Thomas Pynchon, author of Gravity’s Rainbow
“Dance the Eagle to Sleep is a frightening book, which will reassure only those who can take solace from the fact that it is cast as a futuristic novel. This is no real solace, since Marge Piercy has used the future only as a parabolic mirror of the recent past: her novel is indirectly about the Movement, more specifically about the rise, fragmentation, and fall of the Students for a Democratic Society.”
—The New Republic
“Dance the Eagle to Sleep is a cautionary tale, but it is more than that. It is an important political document. I hope the book is read.”
About the Author
Marge Piercy is the author of seventeen novels including the national bestsellers Gone To Soldiers, Braided Lives, and Woman on the Edge of Time; seventeen volumes of poetry, and a critically acclaimed memoir, Sleeping with Cats. Born in center city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she has been a key player in many of the major progressive political battles of our time, including the anti-Vietnam war and the women’s movement, and more recently an active participant in the resistance to the war in Iraq.
- Publisher : PM Press (December 30, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1604864567
- ISBN-13 : 978-1604864564
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,164,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In her iconic style, she zeroes in on the young during an exploratory time in their lives, as they seek to free themselves from the strictures of ordinary society, to escape from the "boxes" in which they reside and the stilted mantra their parents perpetuate.
Our MCs are four teens caught up in a revolutionary fervor, and the story spotlights them one by one, in alternating perspectives, from Shawn (previously Sean) the rocker to the Native American Corey. Runaways are drawn to this fledgling group that expands as the zeal increases. Like Jill (Joanna) or Billy. As we examine their inner thoughts and feelings, through these individuals we come to understand their stories and their causes.
Through music, through dance, and ultimately through experimenting with their own structures, including a farm commune, they become their own persons.
Piercy is great at showing us what the "revolutionary world" of the sixties and seventies was all about. I enjoyed some of her later works a lot more, like Small Changes . But I also liked this glimpse of her beginnings. 3.5 stars.