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The Season of the Witch (1971)

by James Leo Herlihy

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854245,066 (3.82)None
By the author of Midnight Cowboy: A teenage girl runs away to the East Village in "one of the best and most convincing novels . . . of the Woodstock generation" (Publishers Weekly).   As she explains in her diary, seventeen-year-old Gloria Random is running away from her Midwest childhood home. It's the fall of 1969, and her best friend John has been called up for the draft. It's time to escape the Big Finger, and their mundane lives.   Renaming themselves Witch and Roy, they head to New York City in search of Witch's biological father. Landing in the East Village, they fall into an underground world of mysticism, drugs, and free love as they burrow further into hiding from the realities they left behind.   In his last novel, the iconic author of Midnight Cowboy and All Fall Down captures the heady mix of anxiety and experimentation that permeated New York at the height of the anti-war movement. With his trademark wit and insight, James Leo Herlihy brings together a colorful cast of characters straight from the heart of the countercultural revolution.   "A tour de force!" --The New York Times   "Herlihy writes with an edge of iron." --Nelson Algren, National Book Award-winning author of The Man with the Golden Arm… (more)
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This novel from 1971 about the golden hippie years comes highly recommended by an old friend from my way-back life. It's out of print and I order it but cannot bring myself to start. Why? I think most novels of that era make me ashamed to ever have called myself a revolutionary (now "progressive activist"). And do I really need a reminder that I was voted "Class Flower Child" when I graduated from high school in 1970?

It took a blizzard or five for me to launch into "Season of the Witch". I had seen Herlihy's "Midnight Cowboy", of course. This is a story with as much sweetness as Joe Buck (Jon Voight). It's a diary by a teenage girl, Witch Glitz, who travels with her gay best friend Ray from Michigan (like Paul Simon's song, cited, "it took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw")to NYC to find her birth father.

There are similarities (harsh NYC environment, druggy scenes) between the novels, but Witch is an excellent writer who thrives in a loving communal tribe that actually is a fine and safe place to grow up. She meets her father, with surprising results, and Ray comes to terms with being gay and avoiding the draft.

Most amazing for me was that one of the communards, the smart, loving motherly Doris, tells the group that "I was born in 1929". Which made her 40 (don't trust anyone over) at the time of the commune and 86 (!!!!) as of today.

Witch's thoughtfulness and personal evolution is at the big warm heart of the novel. She's just such a kind and insightful narrator. Don't be scared - plunge in and bathe in what the used to be. ( )
  froxgirl | Feb 16, 2015 |
I loved this book so much when I was a misunderstood adolescent. I read more than one copy to tatters. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Gloria Random is a turned on 17 year old, a fugitive from home on the run with her draft evading friend, john. She confronts New York with her unshockability. Meets us with Sally, Sunshine, Peter, Doris, Nysom, Janette and Archie - and her father Henry Glyczwycz ( Glizz Witch)
  TheWasp | Dec 2, 2012 |
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By the author of Midnight Cowboy: A teenage girl runs away to the East Village in "one of the best and most convincing novels . . . of the Woodstock generation" (Publishers Weekly).   As she explains in her diary, seventeen-year-old Gloria Random is running away from her Midwest childhood home. It's the fall of 1969, and her best friend John has been called up for the draft. It's time to escape the Big Finger, and their mundane lives.   Renaming themselves Witch and Roy, they head to New York City in search of Witch's biological father. Landing in the East Village, they fall into an underground world of mysticism, drugs, and free love as they burrow further into hiding from the realities they left behind.   In his last novel, the iconic author of Midnight Cowboy and All Fall Down captures the heady mix of anxiety and experimentation that permeated New York at the height of the anti-war movement. With his trademark wit and insight, James Leo Herlihy brings together a colorful cast of characters straight from the heart of the countercultural revolution.   "A tour de force!" --The New York Times   "Herlihy writes with an edge of iron." --Nelson Algren, National Book Award-winning author of The Man with the Golden Arm

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