WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LIVE NOW by Meredith Maran


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 The late Jerry Rubin notwithstanding, not all '60s survivors sold out to the junk-bond culture of the '80s when the first gray hair sprouted. Maran, 43, is a case in point. The freelance journalist's first book recounts a life spent questioning ``the system,'' protesting against wars (from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf), and living by choice in the Bay Area's rougher neighborhoods; a life of leftist day-care centers and backpacks ``full of exotic lettuces and tomato-basil baguettes,'' and, above all, of exquisite political correctness. Maran's book has its virtues. She writes movingly of surviving breast cancer, of the death of gay friends from AIDS, of the troubles of raising her two children in an increasingly dangerous world. (She catches one of her children renting out his ``Fuck Authority'' button to his grade-school mates for a dollar a pop--hippie capitalism endures.) At her best, she writes with confidence and good humor, as when she recounts her belated, post-divorce discovery of her lesbianism: ``Ending a marriage is one thing. People do that every day. Becoming a lesbian is another. People do that every day only on Donahue.'' Maran is far less appealing when she turns self- righteous, as when she writes about her dreaded (but highly lucrative) work as a staff writer and ``guardian of...consciousness'' for liberal companies like Banana Republic, Smith & Hawken, and Social Assets; she likens her work as an independent consultant to these firms to ``just visiting'' rather than being ``in jail'' in a Monopoly game, an analogy that makes one's teeth hurt. Maran is engaging, but she's not self-critical enough, as if unaware that there's nothing particularly unusual these days about Bay Area lesbian mothers who eat tofu, ride bicycles, and participate in Zen meditation groups.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0-553-09600-1
Page count: 338pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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