Oct. 21, 2009 - Issue #731: Propagandhi
Catherin Gildiner: Wild child
Catherine Gildiner's second book collects memories of growing up in the '60sTen years after her hugely successful first memoir Too Close to the Falls, Catherine Gildiner is back with volume two in After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties. At a time when America itself was experiencing some rather large growing pains, Gildiner was navigating the treacherous waters of adolescence amid a backdrop of civil rights marches, the unending war in Vietnam and the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
When comparing those revolutionary years with our own times, Gildiner reflects that while we face some tumultuous moments today, it's just not as wild as the '60s.
"The '60s were like a tsunami whereas today it's like a ripple," she says. "I'm not saying it's better, but it was wilder, with women's liberation, birth control, Vietnam, which was a real battle cry. Our high school friends came back maimed or dead. Politics were completely divided between the silent majority and those who wanted change. America isn't as polarized now. The youth movement isn't as powerful."
Though these last two statements might seem debatable, they ring true when followed by Gildiner's observation that right now in America, "cities aren't burning" as they did during that transformative decade.
Despite the hardships, the '60s were also the decade that famously encouraged average citizens to truly be themselves, to go beyond the expected norm and to let their freak flag fly.
"'Eccentric' meant almost mental. The '60s opened the bell curve; you didn't have to live in that narrow slot any longer. You could grow into yourself," she says.
When speaking of her own youthful follies, Gildiner renounces any claim to perfection and quite candidly admits that growth is pain while eschewing regrets.
"You can't grow up if you don't make mistakes," she says. "If you never get tired of living with your parents, never push and break out and you end up still living with them when you're thirty, you're like Norman Bates running the motel. The more mistakes you make when you're little, the faster you grow."
Looking back over her early years, Gildiner rediscovered both the simple pleasures of her youth and the challenge of writing about her first attempt at dating.
"I really enjoyed writing the joys of my childhood, forgot how great it really was," she admits. "But romance, it really is appalling. It's hard to explain how you feel, hard to find words to describe it; it's very irrational."
Keeping the second and planned third volume of her memoirs as stand alone books was a conscious decision that reflects Gildiner's belief quality work speaks for itself.
"I don't like those marketing ideas where we make people dependent by stringing them along for several books. If your writing is good, people will want to read your other books."
When asked how she relaxes, since Gildiner doesn't watch television, she sagely replies "Reading. Joy is reading in the evening." V
Tue, Oct 27 (7 pm)
Greenwoods Bookshoppe (7925 - 104 St)
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