America's Child: A Woman's Journey Through the Radical Sixties


America's Child is the story of the journey of a child of first-generation immigrant parents from a working-class neighborhood in Philadelphia to the mythic avenues of 1940s Hollywood, through the transformative years of Berkeley, to the avant-garde art world of New York, to a Cuban movie theater filled with Vietnamese students and the turbulence of the sixties.

Susan Sherman's journey, during a period in which the world was in ferment and large sections of the population were ...

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America's Child is the story of the journey of a child of first-generation immigrant parents from a working-class neighborhood in Philadelphia to the mythic avenues of 1940s Hollywood, through the transformative years of Berkeley, to the avant-garde art world of New York, to a Cuban movie theater filled with Vietnamese students and the turbulence of the sixties.

Susan Sherman's journey, during a period in which the world was in ferment and large sections of the population were engaged in active self-examination and agitating for social change, is one of discovery and introspection.

From the cultural renaissance of the late 1950s, through the sexual revolution, to political activism that starts with world issues and ends with struggles around sexism and homophobia, America's Child is simultaneously cultural history, social discourse, and a deeply personal narrative.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"America's Child is not only a chronicle of the sixties, it's a book of interior and exterior voyages, a book of transformations, a courageous, honest and illuminating book."-Claribel Alegría

"So much of this book touches on the events of my own life. The friends we made protesting that war--'Angry Arts,' The Deux Megots poets' cafe--might be with us still, the portraits are so vivid. This chronicle reads like an adventure story told with modesty and feeling." --Grace Paley

"A poet, a lesbian, a radical, Susan Sherman's life was shaped by the great sweep of change that was the 60s. In America's Child, in beautifully crafted language, she connects us all to her struggle to find her place in a chaotic decade. Her memoir is a moving, sensitive, and insightful look at both a remarkable time and a woman growing into wisdom." --Carol Polcovar

Publishers Weekly

Poet and playwright Sherman revisits her 20s in Berkeley and New York City when she emerged as a lesbian, antiwar activist and artist in her own right. She attended college at Berkeley in 1958, and lived on Telegraph Avenue with artists Diane Wakoski and La Monte Young, who would usher inviting new experiences for the author. She resolved to lose her virginity immediately, but her attraction to women caused emotional conflict within her. Two years later, she demonstrated against the House Un-American Activities Committee in May 1960 and experimented with psychotropic drugs. Moving to New York in 1961, she hung out with beat poets at the Deux Megots and the Metro Café, and began publishing her own poetry thanks to Denise Levertov and others. Sherman chronicles early iconoclastic work with the Hardware Poets Playhouse and La Mama ETC. Occasionally murky and erratic in structure, Sherman's memoir portrays the thrilling unreality of the times. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931896351
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,475,590
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Poet, playwright, founding editor of IKON magazine, Susan Sherman has published three collections of poetry, a translation (Shango de Ima, Doubleday), and The Color of the Heart (Curbstone Press). America's Child was completed thanks to the help of a NYFA fellowship in Creative Nonfiction Literature, a Puffin Foundation Grant, and a residency at Blue Mountain Center.

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Table of Contents

BERKELEY 1958-1961
    2478 Telegraph Ave
    The Muscian & the Poet
    Love & Other Crises
    Barry & Marie
    Fantasy & Morning Glory Seeds
    Letting Go

Sometime in the Forties
    A History Lesson

NEW YORK, 1961-1967
The Early Years
     "On the Road"
     The Deux Megots
     "Coming Out"   
     The Poets
     The Hardware Poets Playhouse
     Kelli's Castle
     The Death of a Friend
     A Riot, a Magazine, a "Marriage"
     The Dialectics of Liberation

CUBA AND AFTER, 1968-1971
The Movement & Other Revelations
     "Mexico Salio a Cuba"      
     Cuba: The Cultural Congress of Havana
     Home Again
     The Doctor & Fidel
     Cuba: The Countryside, The People
     The Struggle Escalates
     The 5th Street Women's Building

New York City, 2006


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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 22, 2009

    A reviewer

    Sherman was not a child of the Sixties, but a voyager through them. A daughter of first-generation, working- class immigrants in Philadelphia, she did not have the sense of entitlements, keen political sense (which has since dulled considerably from what it was among the Sixties generation), and spirit of wild and sometimes reckless rebelliousness and abandon which characterized the mostly college-student members of the Sixties. She does not see the Sixties as a defining moment, but rather as part of 'a historical continuum of struggle and cultural regeneration' of which the civil-rights advances of the previous decade of the Fifties, the labor movement of the mid 1900s, and the first meeting of the NAACP in 1909 were a part. 'The Sixties was not an isolated era.' Yet Sherman's interests, talents, and ambitions drew her to individuals, locations, and situations which typified the counterculture for which the 1960s are remembered. At Berkeley, she met and was heavily influenced by Diane Wakowski and La Monte Young, a musician the noted poet and writer was living with. Wakowski gave inspiration and focus to Sherman's artistic bent. And it was as a student at Berkeley that the author first experimented with drugs, realized her lesbianism, and out of literary curiosity and proximity as much as sympathies began to pay attention to progressive politics which political stripe at the time led to demonstrations and confrontations, and in some cases radicalism. After Berkeley, Sherman wrote plays which were performed and also poems and essays. Lesbianism became natural to her. She lived in New York and traveled to Mexico City and Cuba. She writes about her friendships, experiences, and observations in loosely-connected segments and chapters. She's not analytic, though sometimes explanatory. Nor is she deeply introspective, though she regularly looks inward to examine momentary feelings or responses. The thread running through the material covering 1958 to 1971 is Sherman's interests and career as a writer. These are the main sources of her friendships, etc. Her revisit of the Sixties in the relaxed style of mostly fond, uncritical, though not blinkered recall will revive similar times for ones of the Sixties generation and for those who are not, give a picture of what the lives of many were like apart from the oft-replayed media imagery.

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