Hero to millions of over-educated hipsters, Pagan Kennedy has produced zines, short stories, a semi-autobiography, and this novel, a tiny gem that disappoints only because it is too short. Fran and Dora, two aspiring spinsters who leave the home of their recently deceased father to search out elderly aunts in need of a codependant relationship, discover the youth culture of the late '60s as they drive across America. Coming to terms with the fact that they are not yet old enough to live out their fantasy life of quiet, feminine obsolescence, the two react in contradictory ways to the radical social change that they had failed to notice in their tiny New Hampshire hometown. Kennedy weaves political and personal history together in her extremely fluid prose, producing a work that is swift and moving, leaving the reader wanting more.
From Publishers Weekly
Kennedy's (Stripping and Other Stories) thoroughly delightful story of two road-tripping spinster sisters out to discover themselves will appeal to all but die-hard cynics. Frannie and Doris, both in their 30s, find their lives opening up in strange new ways once their father, to whom they sacrificed their young adulthoods, dies. On the road from Virginia to Arizona, Doris, always the popular, pretty one in high school, wants to party, while the more awkward narrator, Frannie, is still shy about men, having had her heart broken long ago. The story of Frannie's sexual awakening unfolds through her gently ironic narrative, which is filled with clever metaphors (her "curls [were] stiff as meringue") and is both innocent and self-aware ("that night I had a strange dream. It started off as any spinster's dream world, with worries about change lost and trains missed. But suddenly it shifted"). Effectively set against the backdrop of the late '60s?the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War, the '68 Democratic convention?these two charismatic characters change and evolve in ways that reflect the nation's metamorphosis. While some readers may object to Frannie's selfhood emerging through sexual feelings for a man, such criticism is ultimately shallow, as this creative, witty and subtly adventuresome character is able to treat her sexual coming-of-age as yet another wonderful discovery in an unpredictable, quirky world.
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