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Woman on the Edge of Time (A Women's Press Classic) Paperback – 1 Jun 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The Women's Press Ltd; New edition (1 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704346567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704346567
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Publisher

A timeless classic!
Ask any woman born pre-1970 to name the books which she found life altering and you can bet that Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy appears among them. Woman on the Edge of Time is the moving story of Connie Ramos, a thirty-seven-year-old Mexican-American, unfairly incarcerated in a mental hospital, whose survival instinct is greatly tested. On a larger scale it is a Utopian epic that makes you question the system that institutionalises her. Although originally published in 1975, this Women’s Press classic has endured the test of time and is greatly relevant to the 21st century reader interested in the idea of the position of women in the world.

Erica Jong ‘One of the most important novelists of our time.’

Thomas Pynchon ‘Here is somebody with the guts to go into the deepest core of herself, her time, her history, and risk far more than anybody else has so far, just out of a love of the truth and a need to tell it.’

Time ‘Anyone who wants to learn what the revolution against the fat society is all about should read Marge Piercy’s novel.’

New Internationalist ‘Marge Piercy succeeds brilliantly in pitting the imagined idealism of the future against the poisoned and despoiled present – each illuminating the other- and the book stands as one of the classic feminist utopias, alongside Ursula LeGuin’s Dispossessed and Always Coming Home and Joanna Russ’s The Female Man. In Connie and Luciente we have two wonderfully rounded characters, fallible, often wrong-headed but brave, full of spirit and immensely life affirming.’

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

She hated being around the shock shop. It scared her. Regularly some patients from L-6 were wheeled out for shock. One morning there would be no breakfast for you, and then you would know. They would wheel you up the hail and inject you to knock you out and shoot you up with stuff that turned your muscles to jelly, so that even your lungs stopped. You were a hair from death. You entered your death. Then they would send voltage smashing through your brain and knock your body into convulsions. After that they'd give you oxygen and let you come back to life, somebody's life, jumbled, weak, dribbling saliva - come back from your scorched taste of death with parts of your memory forever burned out. A little brain damage to jolt you into behaving right. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes a woman forgot what had scared her, what she had been worrying about. Sometimes a woman was finally more scared of being burned in the head again, and she went home to her family and did the dishes and cleaned the house. Then maybe in a while she would remember and rebel and then she'd be back for more barbecue of the brain. In the back wards the shock zombies lay, their brains so scarred they remembered nothing, giggling like the old lobotomized patients.

On that Wednesday she was sitting there hopefully, but Fargo was deep in gossip with another black attendant. Connie had gone up once for a light - the only way inmates could get a match was to beg for one - and had been told to wait a minute, honey, half an hour ago. Four other patients were waiting too with small requests. She knew better than to approach again. On her lap was spread yesterday's paper, a present from Fargo for cleaning up vomit, but she had read through it, including births and deaths and legal notices. Mrs. Martinez approached her, eyes meeting hers and then downcast in a gesture that reminded her suddenly of Luciente's orange eat. Several weeks had passed since she had been in contact with the future, although almost daily she felt Luciente's presence asking to be let through. Here in the violent ward she was afraid to allow contact, for she had to watch her step. She was never alone, not even in the toilets without doors, never away from surveillance.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Connie has struggled all her life with poverty. Her husband is dead, killed by gang wars: her lover died in prison, her child has been taken into care, and she herself is constantly in and out of mental institutions. When her niece Dolly is attacked by her pimp, Connie defends her, is arrested for assault and locked up yet again in another mental hospital, where they fill her with drugs. In hospital she begins to receive visits from a woman from the future, who she at first thinks is a dream. The woman is from a time-travelling project organised by a village in a society where life is very different, a kind of anarchist utopia. The book is about this vision of the future and how it gives Connie the strength to fight back against the system. Piercy's future is bright and airy: the whole village is a family, people do what they like and what they're good at, children are born in a breeder and have three mothers, pronouns are neuter and sexism no longer exists - but it's not perfect: everyone works very hard, people stil argue, etc, and the characterisation of the villagers is good enough to stop it being too good to be true. It's an interesting and well-imagined utopia which contrasts very strongly with the horror and violence of Connie's real life. A fascinating and enjoyable read.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov 2000
Format: Paperback
You won't believe this book is over 20 years old. There are many themes - the role of women and men, the position of minorities, an examination of whether human nature can ever change, society's definition of mental illness. Boy am I making this sound a dull book - but it isn't! The story itself is terrific, with warmly-drawn characters, and the pace varies nicely. For each passage to make you stop and think, there is a passage that will have you turning the pages as fast as you can.
This book changed the way I thought about the world as well as being a cracking read. There aren't any other books I can say that about.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By The Pamphleteer on 12 Aug 2008
Format: Paperback
An important (if flawed) example of feminist SF, Women On The Edge Of Time escapes that old cliche that nothing dates so quickly as visions of the future, which really speak only to the time of their imagining. But this might have more to do with the persistence (or resurgence) of the patriarchy which it critiques than with any quality of the book itself. The alternation between worlds is nicely imagined and thankfully free from a certain kind of technical obsession that we think of as 'masculinist'. The future citizens manage to take on a life of their own but lack the contradictions that make a work like LeGuin's The Dispossessed superior in so many ways. The language is itself a little pedestrian and reads a little too much like a morality tale - despite her incarceration in a mental institution and her outbreaks of violence and drug-taking, Connie is not quite complicated (or multivalent) enough to break cover into believable autonomy. Many of Piercy's central concerns, and more than a few features of her utopian future, are reminiscent of Joanna Russ's The Female Man. That is a much better place to go for the pleasures of feminist speculative fictions. Nevertheless, this has something going for it, even if that says more about politics and patriarchy than about literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Feb 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is one which allows the reader to consider mental health treatment, whilst reading a truly gripping novel. Connie's struggle against the authorities, and their attempts at neural control is well crafted by Piercy; and the presentation of the future world is a thought provoking approach to take, as well as the idea of the method of time travel. It's a good read, but if you don't like slightly ambiguous endings, it might not be the best book for you.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Penelope on 15 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
While, yes, certainly Piercy's work is dated, its theories of a feminist utopia are firmly set in the perhaps more `idealistic' 70's, this is still by no means a worthless read. In fact there is much to celebrate in her feminist, cum social critique, cum science fiction drama. The story of Connie's abuse at the hands of a pimp, the state and the resultant removal of her daughter, Angelina, into care creates an insight into a world of forced hysterectomies, unequal sexual relationships and discrimination of the poor and ethnic minorities. These are issues still affecting many women in American (where the book is set) and the rest of the world, today, and are therefore still relevant and worthy of analysis. Connie's resultant decent into so called `insanity' forces the reader to question just how mad Connie really is. Is she deserving of a lobotomy that will ultimately erase her memory and her ability to do what she believes is time travel into the future, or is the state interrupting and enforcing control over what they classify as a `dissident', a `rebel'? For insight into the plight of the poor and the often despicable treatment of the mentally ill this book stands alone as an extremely important late 20th century novel, up there with `The Bell Jar', `Girl, Interrupted' and `Prozac Nation.' The sub-plot, set in the future world of a so-called feminist `utopia' equally calls the reader to question just how utopian and improved the conditions really are. Certainly in comparison to Connie's existence in a sexist, discriminatory America were gender and class are definers of social standing, the future Connie finds herself exploring offers many improvements.Read more ›
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