cover image Outside Voices: A Memoir of the Berkeley Revolution

Outside Voices: A Memoir of the Berkeley Revolution

Joan Gelfand. Post Hill, $28.99 (272p) ISBN 979-8-88845-004-8

Poet and activist Gelfand (Extreme) delivers an engrossing recollection of the protest scene in 1970s Berkeley, Calif. Arriving in the city from New York in 1972, when she was 18, Gelfand sought direction and healing while struggling with her father’s sudden death. Almost immediately, she was introduced to a network of women artists who welcomed her with open arms and encouraged her to pursue writing. Coming from a family that held fast to traditional gender roles, Gelfand was thrilled by the women’s intellectual and sexual freedom. She recalls with wide-eyed wonder her experiences dining for the first time in a women-run restaurant, attending a writers’ retreat in the “great Northwest,” touring with her friends’ protest band, and participating in political rallies that the rest of the country was watching on television. Along the way, Gelfand processed the trauma of her father’s death, found her authorial voice, and eventually grew tired of the Berkeley scene’s productive chaos. She decided to leave in 1975—while she was in the middle of an acid trip—so she could “bring the war home” and “be [her] own person.” Though nostalgia creeps in, Gelfand mostly conjures the period with clear eyes, giving flesh and blood to a scene so well-covered it can feel mummified. This stirring account from the front lines of the feminist movement enchants. (Jan.)