Riding Fury Home

Cover of Riding Fury Home

Chana Wilson.  Riding Fury Home. Seal Press, 2012.  PB. 384p. $17. 978-1580054324.

Chana Wilson’s memoir Riding Fury Home chronicles her remarkable, challenging relationship with her mother that ranges from the height of dysfunction to a bond so deep most people could only imagine having with a parent.

The narrative begins with Wilson as a lonely child in 1950’s New Jersey, feeling the loss of a mother who is basically incapacitated because of the radical treatment and heavy drugs she receives at various mental institutions.

As a twenty-something, politically active lesbian in the Bay Area during the early 1970’s, Wilson is happy to be free of the burden of her mother. The twist is that after Wilson comes out as gay, her mother follows suit. Her declaration that she is a lesbian paves the way for reconciliation and for her mother to reveal her experiences of confinement in mental institutions and a loveless marriage with Wilson’s father. Wilson comes to the realization that “homophobia had shattered us all.”

While the story that Wilson presents is a dramatic one, dealing with strong personalities, intense political movements, and the worst of homophobia, the writing is at times a bit too timid, too careful.   Much of the book is spent on Wilson’s childhood and college years. It doesn’t really get moving until 200 pages in, but it’s worth the wait.  The writing is very accessible, at times funny and other times sad, with the main focus on relationships, both familial and romantic. The women’s movement and gay liberation are primarily left as backdrops.

Riding Fury Home is light reading on heavy subjects and a good addition to any public library biography collection.

Reviewer: Kevin Coleman

Librarian I, Alameda Free Library

 

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