Rachel's rebellion has been compared to Huck Finn's brave journey in Mark Twain's HUCKLEBERRY FINN and Holden Caulfield's struggles in J. D. Salinger's THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. How similar do you think her story is to these classics?
Skirts, by Mimi Albert, Baskerville Publishers (hardcover)/p>
You may have to ask your favorite bookstore to order this book from Baskerville, but it is well worth the effort. Albert has written a mesmerizing story of three young women on their own in New York City's Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, seeking independence and excitement among the Beat Generation rather than following the home-and-motherhood route expected of most girls then.
Albert writes powerfully of the seducer and seduced as she introduces Zalman, the tall, handsome son of a rabbi, who suggests "turning on" to all of life, including drugs. He is both an alluring figure and an ominous one as he leads the particularly innocent Helene deeper and deeper into his exotic world.
Throughout the novel, Albert's language is eloquent, direct, and vividly descriptive. Interspersed through her intense, dramatic narrative are wonderfully playful bits of writing that are often hilarious.
It's surprising that twenty years elapsed between publication of Albert's first book, The Second Story Man, which was praised in a New York Times book review as "perfectly written," and the appearance of Skirts, which was a nominee for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award for fiction in 1994. In the interim, Albert lived and studied in India, published short fiction, and lived and taught in northern California's wine country. Today she teaches creative writing at the University of California Extension at Berkeley and is a California Arts Council artist in residence at the National Institute of Arts and Disabilities. As of this writing, she is finishing a new novel, Through Black Seas.
Helene, Ruth, and Victoria have a common cultural heritage but seem to share little in terms of personality and goals. Do you believe in their friendship? What connects them?
Ruth is a particularly rough-edged character. Mat is it that makes you care about her?
How odd or unusual do the views that were held toward women in the early sixties seem in today's milieu?
Copyright Victoria Golden McMains 2000. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Harper Collins
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