Tuesday, April 10
Not long before leaving school to light out for San Francisco, a young Chana Wilson experienced the kind of epiphany that the older Chana Wilson can only convey with a bang! and words like thunderstruck. Reading a column in a feminist newspaper, Wilson writes, "Here was my experience given name ... given a cultural context that was so much wider than my individual life." Her frank and moving memoir, Riding Fury Home (Seal Press), has the power to stir such revelations, too, even as it does the opposite of what that column had: It reminds us how much one remarkable, compelling life can tell us about the culture in which it thrives. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam era, Wilson's story centers on her relationship with her mother, who had suffered horrific treatment in mental institutions, and the fits-and-starts of Wilson's own sexual development in an age when nobody thought women should know about the clitoris. When at long last Wilson discovers freedom and support in love with women, readers won't just know her and her heart better — they'll better understand the last 50 years of American life.