Cleo is looking for a book that was truly memorable for her, for a number of reasons, including the context in which she read it. Honestly, this book sounds fascinating.
I have an HaBo. I read this book in the late ‘80s, during my freshman year at college, and of course I don't remember any names or titles. I borrowed it from one of my roommates, who borrowed it from someone down the hall, who borrowed it from someone else in the dorm. I’m looking for it because I think it was ahead of its time – the heroine had several lovers and no dire consequences. She didn’t die, or get raped, or shamed, or shunned. I’m sure you’re imagining the earnest conversations we budding feminists and young liberal arts scholars had about the ramifications of this radical plot, but no. Pretty sure everyone read it for the same reason I did – the sex. And I’m only pretty sure, not absolutely sure, because I barely talked about it with my roommate and I was WAY too embarrassed to talk about the sex in it. Or the social ramifications thereof.
Some background – I was a bit of a misfit on my first-year hall – I was serious, unworldly, bookish, and socially awkward, (but in a good way, of course), with a short asymmetrical haircut and a wardrobe of baggy dark clothes. I got placed randomly in a hall dominated by worldly earth mother types with long blond hair and hippy throwback wardrobes. They’d sit on the floor in the hallway, smoking and talking about sex and other shocking (to innocent little me) things. So no way was I going to talk about the sex in this book with any of them. Incidentally, we also had a lot of false fire alarms that year – which may or may not have been caused by the girls smoking in the hallway. Those were the days – all of us stumbling out of the dorm in the middle of the night, standing around shivering, and gossiping about all of the guys also stumbling out of our (theoretically) all-women’s dorm.
But I digress. I read it in 1987 or 88 but I think it was written earlier – it had kind of a sexual revolution vibe to it (at least in my hazy memory of it). It was not a romance – I don’t remember an hea. The heroine was a young woman who lived in a city and had a career doing something and had several lovers. That is all the plot that I remember. I do remember more about the lovers.
She met one of her lovers when she interviewed him – I think she was intrigued by the fact that he seemed to be sabotaging himself in the job interview. And somehow they got together. He was a large African American man and she was a small white woman and they were both fascinated by how they looked together. And before they had sex they discussed which position would allow them to kiss and avoid her feet scrabbling at his knees (this is what I remember him saying). Honestly I found this discussion to be more shocking than the actual sex. I was so shy then that the idea of talking about sex with a partner seemed much more daring than actually having sex (which is why it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t attempt to have sex at that age). He later committed suicide.
One of her other lovers was an older white man, who maybe flew her somewhere. She talked openly with him about previous lovers (again, shocking to me) and told him about losing her virginity in a barn or someplace with a lot of sawdust.
I think the sex was not graphic, especially by today’s standards, but for my 18-year-old self, it was quite memorable. I have no idea if this book is any good at all, but I would love to read it again. I hope the bitchery can help.
Oh, the scandal of men in the women's dorms. I went to a women's college in South Carolina, and my senior year, I lived in the dorm that allowed the residents to set their own visitation hours – including (*GASP*) overnight. It was amazing. And yet, that dorm was razed to make room for something else, and doesn't even exist anymore. I joke that they had to demolish it to get rid of those pesky man cooties – and to my knowledge there's no overnight visitation in the dorms now, 10+ years after I graduated. Heh.
Anyway, enough about single-gender dorms and sexytimes! Anyone recall this book? Doesn't it sound amazing?