HEARTBREAK: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant

Andrea Dworkin, Author . Basic $24 (232p) ISBN 978-0-465-01753-9

In this roughly chronological account of her political formation, Dworkin, a prolific writer and ardent antipornography activist, shares the moments her "memory insists on," things "it will not let go." Thus, from grade school through college (what she calls "the archetypical brothel"), there are sexually predatory teachers, morally bankrupt intellectuals and plenty of molested and "incested" victims. The moral compass of these anecdotes can be dizzying. Dworkin's pedophilic high school teacher running a "menage a quatre" with a couple of her girlfriends was "the snake" offering worldly knowledge; she was his "little Eva" going along with his games. Yet there's no restraining the venom when it comes to an overly prim junior high English teacher who had the nerve to try to comfort her when she was mad about getting a B: "I knew I'd get her someday and this is it: eat shit, bitch." Her college years yielded a few political insurrection anecdotes, followed by some European travel stories, but the narrative segues increasingly into discussions of rape and other forms of violence against women. Jail's too good for most rapists and batterers; she'd have their victims shoot them dead. When "pedophile" Allen Ginsberg fretted about being sent to jail after the Supreme Court upheld the criminalization of child porn, she wished him dead, too. She ends with a long-winded lament of "the worst immoralit[ies]"—mostly concerning selling out one's principles, giving up and pretending not to see injustices—which all boil down to "a single sin of human nothingness and stupidity." "I don't care about being understood," Dworkin concludes, but not being understood may be the least ofher problems here. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Mar. 1)

Forecast:This memoir covers little new ground, but at least it's much shorter than Dworkin's previous works. This and the book's timing (its publication coincides with Women's History Month) may entice readers.

Reviewed on: 11/26/2001
Release date: 02/01/2002
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-0-8264-9442-9
Hardcover - 232 pages - 978-0-8264-9147-3
Ebook - 179 pages - 978-1-4411-9893-8
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