1974: A Personal History

Harper. Jun. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9780063314092. $27.99. MEMOIR
In 1974, Prose’s (Mister Monkey) first novel had just come out, but her marriage and hopes of an academic career had shattered. Nothing felt certain: the Vietnam War, Prose’s own self-doubts, and more. So she traveled cross-country to San Francisco where she roomed for a while with a couple of free spirits, who introduced her to their friend Tony Russo. He was an activist and Daniel Ellsberg’s accomplice in the release to the press of the Pentagon Papers. Tony was 36, and she was 26. For a few months, they were a pair. But exposure and prison had driven him into permanent, paranoid radicalism. When Prose’s second novel was published, she went back East, and he followed. But by then, he had become unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. After a few painful meetings, Prose left Russo and never saw or talked to him again. In this memoir, 50 years later, she thinks of who she was then and is now and discusses failing someone who needed a friend.
VERDICT A moving tale, from an expert storyteller, about growing up.
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