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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dissident Gardens

I'd been interested in Jonathan Lethem's Dissident Gardens since I read mostly positive reviews when it was published so when it was released on Audible I added it to my listening queue for the treadmill. I spent my working life in the political realm working for a social democratic party so this book about the radical left seemed right up my alley. This is an old fashioned story spanning several generations with the furious, more communist than Lenin,  Rose Zimmer, as the lynchpin. Lethem gives us a somewhat preachy history of political activism in America from anti-Nazi Jewish immigrants to the Occupy movement. Rose was dispelled from The Party for having an affair with a black policeman but never abandons her communist principles. Rose's daughter, Miriam, is a hippie married to an Irish folksinger. The couple embraces the civil rights agenda of the era and go to Nicaragua to support the Sandanistas. There are a lot of other characters introduced but the mother-daughter relationship is the main focus (although Lethem takes it nowhere). I tried to hang in, I really did, but felt like I was wading through waist-deep sand and bailed about three quarters of the way through. Too many uninteresting/cliched/one dimensional characters, too much sermonizing, not enough interaction between characters to keep me engaged. I have not read anything else by this author and after this experience likely won't.

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