THE DEMETER FLOWER by Rochelle Singer


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A first novel about a lesbian paradise--which, short on imagination, reads a lot like overheard random conversations in a gay bar. The demeter flower dried and brewed as tea induces pregnancy and female offspring, thus enabling the women of the hidden valley of Demeter (in California northeast of Berkeley) to keep their civilization going through parthenogenesis. It's a utopian civilization (like Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland) of women only, refugees of the five-year drought and ensuing anarchy that destroyed American social life in the 1980s. The women fish, farm, hang out in the cafe, and pair off in rather dreary, non-utopian couples. Some thoroughly bored women plan to leave for parts unknown, and on a scouting expedition they encounter the real world outside: a feudal, agrarian society dominated by extortionist priests of the Hare Krishna variety. Meanwhile, the arrival in the valley of a heterosexual couple prompts endless discussions of what is to be done with the man in their midst. And, in yet another plot, the narrator breaks up with one of the scouts and gets it on with one Athena. . . who gives a swell backrub. All these sojourns in alien territory are designed to illustrate contrasts in values, but somehow values get blurred in the fog of compulsory lesbian love scenes and murky dialogue. Built-in appeal for some lesbian separatists, perhaps, but most would rather head out in a wagon than endure this utopia.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's