AMERICAN DREAMERS: The Story of Charmian and Jack London by Clarice Stasz

AMERICAN DREAMERS: The Story of Charmian and Jack London

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Engaging, sensational story of the comrade-in-arms love affair between two of America's great radicals. Stasz (Sonoma State U.; The American Nightmare, 1981) has too much admiration for her subjects and, it seems, their politics to avoid touches of hagiography. The glow never quite leaves these socialist saints--so progressive in love that they called each other ""Mate-Man and Mate-Woman""--even when Stasz suspectly apologizes for their shared racial prejudices, Anglophilia, and London's alcoholism and misogyny. The book also suffers from oversimplification and crude attempts at psychoanalysis; Stasz generalizes that ""sex and class"" predominantly shaped the London lives but never distinguishes subtly enough the hows and whys. Still, color inherent to her story keeps it afloat. Charmian Kittredge swept Oakland's leftish bad boy off his feet (and out of a first marriage) with her radical politics, feminist views on sex and personal Élan (she scandalized fellow horsemen by riding sidesaddle). She also proved herself a strong writer; her brilliantly chronicled diaries of the couple's troubled travels abroad London's famous Snark provide Stasz with a good deal of the book's material. From them, she gleans both Charmian's unfailing devotion to London as his health and writing career soared and swooned, and a bracing portrait of a feminist rogue who held fast even after losing two children in birth. But, unfortunately, London's own physical and psychological demise eclipses Charmian's more interesting story as the book winds down. Illustrated with photos from London's personal collection, this is earnest, affectionate, rugged--and, most importantly, puts another unheralded American feminist on the map.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's