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An acrid documentary of the revolutionary deathtrip which made a sick joke of that politer phrase, civil disobedience -- here transcribed in a stutter of action, slogan and jargon as well as clips from the police and press files. Documentary, one suspects, even to the possible participation of its author whose first novel this is, with a realism only too dearly visible through the smoke of joints and bombs. The scenario opens with an explosion of a house in Berkeley (some time after that ""New York townhouse"" incident) and then zeroes in on four of the young women who were part of this group, women whose pasts were to an extent disguised by their initials and false names and the welfare money in their musette bags: Marina, with a most solicitous and indulgent father, swaddling her in the furs he sells, and now trying to get her safely to Toronto; but it's not that easy for C.B., picked up stoned, booked, and forced to abandon her child to the County people; while Jersey, a writer in progress, and Kam (nee Heritage -- a professor's daughter) seem to survive the betrayal they anticipate. Beal's novel, with perhaps less tract and mystique, may remind you of the earlier Marge Piercey. If we now question whether these times are well behind us, there's the cobra in the brush fire on the farther outskirts of reason to remind us of a much nearer past. Whatever our sympathies (Beal doesn't play on them) or lack of them, the novel has a toxic power.

Pub Date: March 13th, 1975
Publisher: Atlantic/Little, Brown