Vida Paperback – 10 Dec 2011
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"Marge Piercy tells us exactly how it was in the lofts of the Left as the 1960s turned into the 1970s. This is the way everybody sounded. This is the way everybody behaved. "Vida" bears witness." "--New York Times "
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I was broke, unemployed with no unemployment, and looked at two books, the other I forget. Vida was cheaper pennies per page.
Boy am I lucky. Marge's books have kept me going for years, long before I met her, or learned the good things she's done.
This is the innards of what happened in the 1960s, to be sure to people whose politics I don't share, people who in SDS, people who didnt look to the future of the mass struggles but tried individual acts they thought would stimulate the struggle, and then found themselves on the run for decades. However, the human stories, why people resist, why people fight, why people survive, and also how people love both romantically and as comrades in solidarity is shown with candor, realism, and humor.
This book is also a page turner.
Get this book now while its available at reduced prices for used or remaindered books, pennies for page as I did. When young people, working people, women who want freedom, people who want to stop billionaire sponsored wars rise again and fight, this book will be republished, cherished, understood anew. That time is not going to be long.
I am glad I have my Vida to read. Hope you can get 21 years out of uyour copy!
Vida is accomplished at avoiding capture, but as the people she worked with and loved are caught and sentenced, one by one, she realizes the huge price she has chosen to pay for her political intent. Vida runs from one from one safe haven to another, cadging cash from supporters, finding a floor or a room to stay, keeping one step ahead of potential stakeouts. Her survival skills are amazing, but cost her dearly in the end as she again has to choose between someone she loves and staying free of the system.
Is this an accurate version of the student activists of the Seventies? I certainly interacted with many of the people who were like Vida's compatriots when I went to university at a large Midwestern school (where, by the way, Piercy was artist in residence right where I was living at the time) and I can verify that the way Piercy paints the life and times is hauntingly accurate. It was a very chaotic but strangely innocent time and this is probably the best historical novel I've read that depicts the insanity of those years when the Vietnam War raged on.
I am a big fan of Piercy's writing. I do not share her political views, though I share the outrage she has with the injustice in the world. She's deeply honest and she doesn't paint any of her characters as totally heroic or flawless. I had to read this book three times, I was so entranced. In a way, if you weren't there, you probably won't get the full flavor of the times, but for me, it was a dip into my college years and I found this an unforgettable novel.
I was moved by how well-imagined the title character and this book are. One does not consider the things that one would have to do or endure to be underground, even here. Vida can't go to a doctor when she needs one, even for mundane things, because she doesn't have health insurance and would need to provide proof of identity. Vida sleeps with people, men and women, (she can't be picky,) because they're providing her with a place to stay. She can't flee the country because she doesn't have a passport. It's heart-wrenching and deeply felt.
Though I don't share the politics that led Vida to her situation, I understand the restless need to *do* *something* in the face of terrible injustice. Vida doesn't get whiney or preachy, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Author of Rabid: A Novel and Callous: A Novel