Revolutionaries by Joshua Furst

Revolutionaries

Joshua Furst

Lenny Snyder was the famous pied piper of the counterculture throughout the sixties and beyond. A kaleidoscopic saga, this novel is at once a profound allegory for America and an intimate portrait of a father and son who define our times.

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In his second novel, the acclaimed author of The Sabotage Café leads us on a long, strange trip through the heart of the sixties and beyond, as seen through the eyes of the revolution's poster child.

Fred is the sole offspring of Lenny Snyder, the famous (or notorious) pied piper of the counterculture, and in middle age he hates being reminded of it. But neither can he ignore any longer his psychedelically bizarre childhood. From infancy, for instance, he was called Freedom (in fact his given name) not only by those who should have known him but also by members of the burgeoning movement led by his father, who happily exploited having his wife and his toddling, then walking and talking, and finally observant son in tow. Thanks to Fred, this charismatic, brilliant, volatile ringmaster is as captivating in these pages as he was to his devoted disciples back then. We watch Lenny organize hippies and intellectuals, stage magnificent stunts, and gradually lose his magnetic confidence and leading role as the sixties start slipping away. He demands loyalty but gives none back in return, a man who preaches love but treats his family with almost reflexive cruelty. And Fred remembers all of it--the chaos, the spite, the affection. A kaleidoscopic saga, this novel is at once a profound allegory for America--where we've been and where we're going--and a deeply intimate portrait of a father and son who define our times.


Advance Galley Reviews

This is a great concept -- what's the experience of actually living with a celebrity revolutionary hippie leader -- how do free love and sharing concepts work when the cameras are off and everyone is looking to someone for decisions and leadership. Told through the perspective of Freedom, reflecting on his early childhood being foisted into the spotlight by his celebrity/fugitive father, believer-ish mother, and the cast of loonies, outcasts, and others that begin as misfits, rise to massive power, and then are forgotten but have to figure out how to keep on living. At times it gets very repetitive -- saying the same thing many different ways, but the look behind the scenes at the jealousies, rivalries, insecurities, and other issues among the hippies and their strange bedfellows is full of colorful characters and incidents.

Furst's Revolutionaries is a coming of age story about what a long strange trip it's been. Freedom is his name and his parents were hippies, particularly his dad, Lenny Snyder, a captain of sixties radicals, an Abbie Hoffman type character who thrived on the notoriety of being a neverland inhabitant, shedding any thought of grieving up. From the perspective of young Freedom, though, life was often an episode of stop the world I want to get off. This was especially true after Lenny plants bombs and the Feds are out for him and his solution is to disappear. And, as life gets tough, Freedom and his mother find there are few that stick by them. What carries this novel is the force of the coming of age narrative voice and the endless anecdotes he shares.

 


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