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memoir recalls a woman's voyage through 1960s America,
This review is from: America's Child: A Woman's Journey Through the Radical Sixties (Paperback)
Sherman was not a child of the Sixties, but a voyager through them. A daughter of first-generation, working-class immigrants in Philadelphia, she did not have the sense of entitlements, keen political sense (which has since dulled considerably from what it was among the Sixties generation), and spirit of wild and sometimes reckless rebelliousness and abandon which characterized the mostly college-student members of the Sixties. She does not see the Sixties as a defining moment, but rather as part of "a historical continuum of struggle and cultural regeneration" of which the civil-rights advances of the previous decade of the Fifties, the labor movement of the mid 1900s, and the first meeting of the NAACP in 1909 were a part. "The Sixties was not an isolated era." Yet Sherman's interests, talents, and ambitions drew her to individuals, locations, and situations which typified the counterculture for which the 1960s are remembered.
At Berkeley, she met and was heavily influenced by Diane Wakowski and La Monte Young, a musician the noted poet and writer was living with. Wakowski gave inspiration and focus to Sherman's artistic bent. And it was as a student at Berkeley that the author first experimented with drugs, realized her lesbianism, and out of literary curiosity and proximity as much as sympathies began to pay attention to progressive politics; which political stripe at the time led to demonstrations and confrontations, and in some cases radicalism. After Berkeley, Sherman wrote plays which were performed and also poems and essays. Lesbianism became natural to her. She lived in New York and traveled to Mexico City and Cuba. She writes about her friendships, experiences, and observations in loosely-connected segments and chapters. She's not analytic, though sometimes explanatory. Nor is she deeply introspective, though she regularly looks inward to examine momentary feelings or responses. The thread running through the material covering 1958 to 1971 is Sherman's interests and career as a writer. These are the main sources of her friendships, etc. Her revisit of the Sixties in the relaxed style of mostly fond, uncritical, though not blinkered recall will revive similar times for ones of the Sixties generation and for those who are not, give a picture of what the lives of many were like apart from the oft-replayed media imagery.
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