Split: A Counterculture Childhood

Split: A Counterculture Childhood

Lisa Michaels

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0395957885

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this "disarmingly amiable reminiscence" (The Atlantic Monthly) that "may be the best argument for the left since Marx" (The New Yorker), poet and writer Lisa Michaels blends memoir with social commentary to tell a remarkable tale of growing up as a child of political activists during the early seventies. Michaels's upbringing was marked by communes, rallies, and road trips; as a young girl she traveled across the country with her mother and stepfather in a customized mail truck, complete with a wood stove, while her father spent two years in jail for his part in an antiwar protest. Raised in a rural California town, Michaels craved conformity, but eventually she came to share many of her parents' long-held values. By a writer of uncommon perception, SPLIT offers "a rare glimpse of a life that embodies a time" (Vogue).

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way he always stood, but it has the look of a pose, a pose meant to call attention to his belt bristling with a soldier's accouterments: pouches and buckles, binoculars, a canteen. He smiles slyly from under his brows, the glare that fills one half of the photo eliding a sliver of his cheek, so his face looks almost lean—my father's face. Behind him: wheel ruts and a truck driving out of the frame, its cargo draped with a tarp. The man looks like he's up to something. My grandfather returned

right. It seemed a little seedy around that part of town. But they were tolerant people, unashamed of their bodies. "Well, I guess you probably would." I saw my father's face fall, and so I quickly amended, "Maybe only once in a while, if someone else invited you?" Leslie was quiet beside me. My father's voice turned calm and instructive: "Leslie and I would never go into a place like that, honey. We don't agree with that kind of thing. It's very exploitative of women." I think he often felt

three fine hairs sprouting out of it, and I thought it made her hands look strong and capable. I draped one arm over the edge of the table so the veins would stand up, and with the other hand I paged through chapters called "Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle" and "Correcting Mistaken Ideas." Halfway around the world, the Cultural Revolution was winding down, but I was insensible to this, lost in the tissue-thin pages. I imagine a few people must have passed me that day, a skinny kid eating

three fine hairs sprouting out of it, and I thought it made her hands look strong and capable. I draped one arm over the edge of the table so the veins would stand up, and with the other hand I paged through chapters called "Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle" and "Correcting Mistaken Ideas." Halfway around the world, the Cultural Revolution was winding down, but I was insensible to this, lost in the tissue-thin pages. I imagine a few people must have passed me that day, a skinny kid eating

blusher and lipstick and thinking about what I might steal. It seems the shame of being nabbed by Mr. Shepherd in the first grade hadn't cured me of shoplifting—it just made me more cautious. I didn't consider petty theft a vice worth resisting; I only tried to swear off getting caught. Still, I have a hard time reconstructing what tempted me to palm a vial of Visine that day. Perhaps I was nervous about the cost of the eye drops, though I have no doubt my father would have paid for them if I

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