‘Radical Descent’ reading Thursday
Date posted: August 19, 2014
The next edition of Destination Sheridan magazine — coming Oct. 18 — will feature “favorite places” of Sheridan County by citizens who know them well.
Plus, there will be stories on winter camping and survival, winter activities, features on local history and heritage and Sheridan’s burgeoning music scene.
It’ll be good reading.
Pick my top three genres of books and certainly memoir is there. Publishers note, too, how memoirs are selling well, that it’s possibly a Baby Boomer thing. This generation is looking back on eventful lives and putting those experiences into print for a wider audience.
One of the most interesting memoirs of late is Linda Coleman’s “Radical Descent: The Cultivation of an American Revolutionary.” Ms. Coleman tells a story of how she turned from the comforts of a privileged class to a revolutionary guerilla cell in the early 1970s in an effort to be a part of a worldwide revolution.
“I was naïve and idealistic and this was the moment to choose sides,” she told me Monday afternoon on the telephone. “I had quit my class and believed this was the right action towards those who were abusing power in this country.” Coleman, 61, said she had put her contemporaries “on pedestals” and later learned their motivations, which involved felony bank robbery and bomb making, was “not my style; not who I am.” Coleman was never under indictment, but the people she ran with were federal fugitives and some are incarcerated.
The memoir had a gestation period of about 15 years. She would work on it now and then, and at one point, had put it away for six years. Then with the encouragement of novelist Peter Matthiessen, who read her work, she was able to finish and publish. Matthieseen, author of more than 30 books of fiction and non-fiction, was a three-time National Book Award (‘Snow Leopard’, ‘Shadow Country’, among others) recipient. He died in April.
For years, Ms. Coleman worked with women prisoners, helping them with their memoirs, and these days, with young male offenders in a New York program, ‘Transitions to Freedom.’ “Women like to write more about themselves than young men,” she says. “Sometimes, you have to get out of your own way and writing about it is helpful.” Both programs addressed high corrections recidivism rates and her work with women prisoner memoirs is cited in university criminology curriculums.
Ms. Coleman has been a nurse for more than 30 years and was ordained a Zen monk in 2003 and is active in the Zen community in Long Island, New York, where she lives with her life partner, Geoff Kuzara, whom, she says has taken her “all over” the back roads of the Bighorn Mountains and throughout Wyoming. She is the mother of two children.
Ms. Coleman will be doing a reading and book signing at our local book seller, Sheridan Stationery, Books and Gallery on Thursday, Aug. 21, from 6 to 7 p.m.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
— George Orwell, English novelist, journalist, 1903-1950