From poet and novelist Piercy (Three Women, 1999, etc.), a beguilingly frank account of a fully engaged life, shared with cats.
Detailing the changes that have roiled society since the Depression, as well as her relationships with family, friends, and lovers, Piercy provides a vivid, if unanalyzed, historical and personal record of the late-20th century. Paralleling her own story are those of the cats she has known through her life: sweet-natured Fluffy, vindictively poisoned in her adolescence; difficult but beautiful Jim Beam; and her four current cats, two Korats and two tabbies. Like all cat lovers, Piercy celebrates the animals’ intelligence, loyalty, and sensitivity as she interweaves their destinies with hers. She begins with her early years in a tough Detroit neighborhood. Only child Piercy was alienated from both her Jewish mother and her gentile father while growing up, though she later became closer to her elderly mother. Young Marge belonged to a gang, carried a knife, and had numerous sexual relationships. Her parents didn’t want her to go to college, but with scholarships and money she earned working, she went off in the late 1950s to the University of Michigan. There, she won writing prizes and met her first husband, but was soon divorced. She subsequently lived in San Francisco, Boston, and New York, acquired a second husband, and, as the Vietnam War heated up, threw herself into antiwar protests. She was a prominent member of the SDS, injuring her back in encounters with the police, but after becoming increasingly soured by the New Left’s attitude toward women, she joined the burgeoning feminist movement and lived in an open marriage. Times changed: finding politics too demanding, Piercy moved to Cape Cod, where she still lives with her third husband—and the cats. Recognizing writing as “the real core” of her life, she now puts it first.
The personal and the political recollected with honesty and passion. (b&w photos throughout)