EXPECTING TO FLY by Martha Tod Dudman


A Sixties Reckoning
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A memoir of life as a teenager in the 1960s: perfectly remembered, unfiltered through the years.

“All that excitement,” she recalls, “all that feeling of being at the center of things, all that sense of justification and deliverance and magical power.” She admits: “It’s easy now to see only the ridiculousness of it—the terrible clownlike costumes, the lost lives spun out and destroyed by drugs, bad driving, crazy risks,” but it was her life, and she spins it out with a wonderful palpability. Sex was ever-present, not so much the act, but the abiding curiosity thereof: “You knew or you didn’t know. You’d say or you’d say you’d say but you didn’t say because you either knew and didn’t say or you didn't know and couldn’t say and I sure didn’t know.” She looks back at those days of war, Eugene McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, Phil Ochs, and Langston Hughes. She admits to a hearty dose of adolescent angst that reached deep and seized her gut: “It wasn’t one thing . . . whatever it was had to do with the way sometimes I got so scared. It had to do with a kind of hunger that I didn’t understand.” Sex was eclipsed by dope—acid, uppers, and (heaven help her) No Doz—which trashed her relationship with her parents. Although her mother isn’t depicted with much sympathy, the author portrays her father, a savvy foreign correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as a brick, so her drug-fueled estrangement from him is like a knife wound. As she was scraping bottom, bowling on acid for her gym credits at Antioch College, her father was kidnapped by the Khmer Rouge and the world shifted on its axis—though Dudman (Augusta, Gone, 2001) would never suggest it was as neat as this. She began to gather the tatters of her life about her and shape them into something gratifying.

As evident and actual as living theater.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7432-4773-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2004


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