cover image Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me

Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me

Erin Keane. Belt, $29 (210p) ISBN 978-1-953368-31-7

Salon editor-in-chief Keane (Death-Defying Acts) combines memoir and cultural criticism in this gut-wrenching account of the shadows Hollywood and her parents’ star-crossed relationship have cast over her life. In 1972, Keane’s mother was a 15-year-old runaway living in New York City’s East Village when she met and married a 36-year-old man recovering from a heroin addiction. Though Keane’s father died when she was five, transforming him into “a romantic figure in absentia,” her mother rebuilt her life as a labor and delivery nurse and remarried. It’s her gritty memories—of stealing clothes from the hippie boutique where she briefly worked, of being drugged and gang raped at a Long Island motel—that give the book much of its emotional punch and set the stage for Keane’s inquiries into American popular culture. She takes to task such celebrated films as Woody Allen’s Manhattan and John Ford’s The Searchers for prioritizing male over female perspectives and grooming viewers to accept sexual exploitation and violence against women. At times, the parallels between the personal and cultural feel tenuous, as when Keane views the dissolution of her parents’ marriage and her move to Arizona with her mom and her brother through the lens of Star Wars, but her lyrical prose, candid self-reflections, and diligent research will resonate with readers. This eagle-eyed inquiry hits the mark. (Sept.)