New York performance artist Gwen Kubacky thinks no one cares about feminist art anymore, until young art student Emma Firestein approaches her to become a mentor. Gwen agrees, hoping this legacy can be passed on to a new generation. As it happens Emma’s mother, Dana Firestein, is a woman who co-founded a legendary radical feminist school in the 1970s—Labrys—which Gwen attended.
Gwen’s tutelage of Emma has barely begun when the young woman is raped and murdered during a night out clubbing. Dana’s comrades rally from far and near, as do friends of Emma’s, and they gather in the only possible space, Gwen’s warehouse loft.
The young women disdain the judgmental old fossils they’re cooped up with. And to the women of Labrys, this alien new generation, with its ignorance of its radical roots and birth in feminism, appears ungrateful if not worthless.
But heretical challenges to old beliefs surface among Dana’s contemporaries, as do truths long held secret. And among the younger women are those who possess more than enough rage and radical belief to take action to avenge Emma’s murder.
Book Marks by Richard LaBonte
Syndicated - 10/04/2009: There's a murder at the heart of this novel about the fundamental necessity of fierce feminist art, but the story is no whodunit. In the guise of entertainment—and this is an evocative read—Wolverton digs into the confounding question of how feminist ideals that fueled both art and life in years past might yet hold sway as creative women move into their middle and elder years. Those ideals still hold for defiant New York performance artist Gwen Kubacky, though reviewers haven't been kind to her recent work. So she's both wary and intrigued when a young art student, Emma Firestein, asks Gwen to critique her fledgling art. When Emma is killed by a man while out clubbing, comrades from the era of LABRYS—a short-lived radical feminist school of the 1970s—come together for a memorial, where both old feuds and old passions resurface. There's a whiff of nostalgia to Wolverton's story, but its emotional assessment of an era and its hope that feminist art still matters are inspirational.
Daisy's Dead Air
9/2009: These are the perfect tiny snapshots and vignettes that make this book worthwhile and wonderful... As always, the women argue all through the novel, validating and not-validating each other. As feminists always have. Don't miss this one, particularly all you feminists over 40. Certainly, one of these carefully-and-lovingly-drawn heroines is you.