Un-American Activities: A Memoir of the Fifties

Sally Belfrage, Author
Sally Belfrage, Author HarperCollins Publishers $22.5 (263p) ISBN 978-0-06-019000-2
Paperback - 978-0-06-092626-7
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In this wry and poignant memoir, Belfrage ( Living with War: A Belfast Year ) shows how growing up in the conformist 1950s for her inextricably mixed the personal and the political. Daughter of radical writers Cedric Belfrage and Molly Castle, the author wished unsuccessfully for social invisibility during her McCarthy-era adolescence. She was a shiksa among the Jews of New York City's Bronx High School of Science; an acolyte to her stewardess-wannabe friend Debbi, a pretend ``all-American girl''; and the girlfriend of a West Pointer. Belfrage's mother was an eccentric ``kleptomama'' who believed rules didn't apply to her, her father a leftist who resisted the Communist Party line. To reconstruct her parents' lives, she relies on memory, their writings and even their FBI files. Belfrage recaptures both the traumas of her abortion and the expulsion of her father to England on political grounds. In a moving epilogue, she updates her story 30 years later, visiting her dying parents--her father in Mexico, her mother in Bermuda--and reconnecting with her West Point lover, who is now a married general. And in a disturbing episode of deja vu, Belfrage finds herself the object of an army investigation because of that West Point relationship. (June)
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