Vida

Vida coverVida
Marge Piercy
PM Press, 433 pages
Kindle edition $9.99
purchased on sale for $3.51

It had been many decades since I had read a Marge Piercy novel, and I thought I was due. Piercy is not a literary novelist by any means, but she has her niche and her following. While she has written historical fiction and speculative fiction she is best known and most appreciated by her followers for her contemporary fiction about feminism and political activism in the sixties and seventies.

Vida, originally published in 1980, is classic Piercy. The title character is an activist from the sixties who has had to go underground due to her bombing attacks on military-related targets. The novel moves back and forth between her activist years in the sixties and her fugitive years in the seventies. While the book describes her actions as a leader of an anti-war organization and chronicles her constant travels, requests for money, and pleas for shelter, the novel deftly portrays her many relationships. And she does have many: her ex-husband, her current lover, the many members of the Movement (always with a capital M), and especially her sister. The relationships resonate as real and believable and the plot is an effective page-turner.

In the end Piercy leaves one hanging. Loose ends are not tied up and much is left unresolved. But the journey to get there makes for engaging and entertaining reading.


Hippie Food

Hippie Food coverHippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat
Jonathan Kauffman
Narrated by George Newbern
HarperAudio, January 23, 2018
$20.27 for Audible members, more for non-members
purchased with an Audible credit

I started college in 1971 and was surrounded by people who were into natural foods and vegetarian eating. At Pitzer College it was written into the food service contract that each dinner meal had to have one vegetarian entrée. My senior year, when I lived off campus, I had a copy of the first edition of Diet for a Small Planet, and I was very much in tune with Frances Moore Lappé’s philosophy that we should get our protein from plants rather than animals.

Hippie Food, then, addressed a subject in which I was very interested. Kauffman really covers the waterfront on the topic. He writes about the early Seventh Day Adventists in the nineteenth century who believed in a vegetarian diet. He discusses the natural food and vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles in the 1940’s that attracted the elite in Hollywood. He talks about Stephen Gaskin and The Farm commune. Kauffman accurately describes how vegetarian cookbooks evolved, from Lappé’ to Mollie Katzen and her Moosewood Cookbook as well as those between and beyond. Near the end of the book he chronicles the food co-op wars of the seventies and eighties, describing the debate over healthy for the few versus affordable for the working class. He explains how Whole Foods arose out of all that.

It’s all fascinating stuff and narrator George Newbern delivers the material in an extraordinarily pleasant and engaging manner. I found it a most enjoyable listening experience.