Sunday, July 25, 2010

The war was always there

'When I was fourteen, and still in junior high, we read a Hemingway story in class that opened, "In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more." It was a sad story, and that line stayed in my head; it felt like my own truth. War had always been present in my life, although I never went to it myself.'
That is the opening of The Love Children by Marilyn French. This fictional memoir of the 1960s and beyond is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and is particularly interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it was not written by a rose-tinted spectacles wearing soixante-huitard. Marilyn French was born in 1929 and The Love Children was published shortly before her death in 2009. Secondly the novel comes from The Feminist Press, an activist and independent imprint based at the City University, New York.

Sadly war is still very much present, but Abbie Hoffman summed up the 1960s pretty well when he said:
'We were young, self-righteous, reckless, hypocritical, brave, silly, headstrong and scared half to death. And we were right'.
Nowdays it is fashionable to emphasise the silly and hypoctical side of the 60s. But Algerian writer Tahar Djaout, who was assasinated by the Armed Islamic Goup in 1993, made the case for the fast disappearing art of activism so eloquently:
Silence is death
And you, if you speak, you die
If you are silent you die
So, speak and die
The Love Children is an absorbing and illuminating read, but unfortunately the cover is as naff as the title. So my header image is a Smithsonian Folkways CD that is rooted in activism and which featured in my 2009 post Mixing music and politics.

This post is available via Twitter @overgrownpath. The Love Children was borrowed from Norwich Millenium Library. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

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