To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.
Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!
If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!
What better way to spend a Friday?
Today’s featured book is one I chose because of the era and the subject matter: those were my times, and we were a-changing. Eat the Document, by Dana Spiotta, is a bold and moving novel about a fugitive radical from the 1970s who has lived in hiding for twenty-five years. Eat the Document is a hugely compelling story of activism, sacrifice, and the cost of living a secret.
Beginning: Part One – 1972 – By Heart
It is easy for a life to become unblessed.
Mary, in particular, understood this. Her mistakes—and they were legion—were not lost on her. She knew all about the undoing of a life: take away, first of all, your people. Your family. Your lover. That was the hardest part of it. Then put yourself somewhere unfamiliar, where (how did it go?) you are a complete unknown. Where you possess nothing. Okay, then—this was the strangest part—take away your history, every last bit of it.
56: As they sat on the porch sharing a hand-rolled cigarette of tobacco and hash, Sissy told Miranda the impeccable pedigree of the Black House. How everyone knew the house, and how it was actually notorious in youth circles.
Blurb: In the heyday of the 1970s underground, Bobby DeSoto and Mary Whittaker — passionate, idealistic, and in love — design a series of radical protests against the Vietnam War. When one action goes wrong, the course of their lives is forever changed. The two must erase their past, forge new identities, and never see each other again.
Now it is the 1990s. Mary lives in the suburbs with her fifteen-year-old son, who spends hours immersed in the music of his mother’s generation. She has no idea where Bobby is, whether he is alive or dead.
Shifting between the protests in the 1970s and the consequences of those choices in the 1990s, Dana Spiotta deftly explores the connection between the two eras — their language, technology, music, and activism. Character-driven and brilliant, Eat the Document is an important and revelatory novel about the culture of rebellion, with particular resonance now.
Okay, I admit that this is my favorite kind of story from my younger days. How young radicals, steeped in the idealism of youth and the fervor of their times, put everything at risk for the cause. I can’t wait to find out what happens to the characters in this story. What do you think? What are you sharing today?