A self-critical but refreshingly unrepentant memoir of '60s radicalism. Born in 1952, Brody grew up in working-class...


RED STAR SISTER: Between Madness and Utopia

A self-critical but refreshingly unrepentant memoir of '60s radicalism. Born in 1952, Brody grew up in working-class Riverhead and Massapequa, New York (her father ran ""a five-acre auto-wrecking yard""), before acquiring the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll credentials of her older contemporaries: she tripped in the Haight, took in Woodstock, jetted to Europe on Icelandic Air, and smoked hash in Amsterdam. All of this she recounts with good humor, capturing the seize-the-day spirit of the times with an easy grace. Writing of the aftermath of the Kent State shootings, for instance, she recalls an invitation by a young hipster to share his sleeping bag before a demonstration: ""In that eve-of-battle atmosphere, I thought, why not? If they use live ammunition tomorrow--I could die a virgin."" She also spent time on the fringes of the Left arguing with her old-guard radical father over Vietnam and logging time with the White Panther Party (from which she earned the designation ""Red Star Sister""). As she puts it: ""I was . . . moving spasmodically, from plot point to plot point, like a character in a melodrama."" All these experiences mark the turmoil and idealism to which her subtitle alludes, and she writes of them skillfully and without self-indulgence. Although she clearly rues some of the rhetorical (and the daily) excesses of the New Left, Brody refuses to follow the path of David Horowitz and other '60s rebels-turned-rightists. ""By telling you this story of the war years in terms of my own life,"" she instead volunteers, ""I hope to salvage some sense of the utopianism and the complicated vision of country and self that dazzled so many of us in the age we held in common."" Casually convincing sentences and a steadfast memory make this a representative memoir of a troubled era.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 1998


Page Count: 206

Publisher: Hungry Mind

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998