When twenty-something Lissa’s father dies at age ninety-four, she finds herself suddenly released from a lifetime of caregiving duties and paternal strictures. She escapes her sheltered American childhood, attends university in France, loses her virginity to a Lebanese medical student, forms friendships with an assortment of international students, and vagabonds around Europe on a Eurail Pass.
As a French major, Lissa’s goal is straightforward: to improve her French as she completes her junior year abroad. But this year, 1973–1974, turns out to be a pivotal one. Accosted by troubling news from the United States—gas shortages, the erupting Watergate scandal—and exposed firsthand to a daily clash of diverse cultures, Lissa awakens to aspirations that go far beyond traditional academic credentials.
Ultimately, Lissa seeks a truth that is broader than the one she grew up with. She dreams of carrying on the creative efforts of great American woman authors who, over the generations, have expressed an expanding vision. Seized by a fledgling French major’s rudimentary exposure to Sartre’s existentialism, she yearns to claim her infinite freedom and make authentic choices despite the constraints imposed by politics and history. She yearns to escape the grip of bad faith and take responsibility for the decisions she makes.
Traveling a Slant Rhyme: 1973-1974 is Book 2 in the Lissa Power series. It is a sequel to At the Far End of Nowhere, in which Lissa tells her own story of growing up in a rapidly changing, post-World War II America.
Fields of Force: A Love Story, a third book in the Lissa Power series, is in progress. Book 3 explores the complicated and dynamic relationship between Lissa and her first husband, a brilliant but troubled chess master.
More about the Book
Traveling a Slant Rhyme explores the adage that history repeats itself, that history rhymes. The novel goes on to postulate/illustrate that when history does indeed repeat itself/rhyme, that rhyme is a slant one (as in an Emily Dickinson poem). For example, news of the Watergate Scandal punctuates the backdrop of the novel’s 1973–1974 setting. Reflections of the Nixon debacle are expected to echo forward, resonating with the contemporary reader’s experience of 2020s Trump Administration follies even as they unfold today. But this rhyme of Nixon/Trump couplets will be “imperfect”; it will be slant. The attuned reader will note a milder, less deviant Nixon rhythm compared to the exaggerated Trumpian metric that jars us now.
The novel is auto-fiction. As such, a young woman, a Boomer who is alive today captures, preserves, and shares an insider’s firsthand view of a year in recent history (1973–1974). The story told here is a living memory seized just as this most populous, impactful, and trendsetting generation enters old age and begins to dwindle, fade, and disappear forever from this planet.
Told in the present tense, by a first-person protagonist, the viewpoint is a personal one—subjective, biased. For example, Roe v. Wade, enacted in 1973, is barely mentioned in passing by the naïve young woman narrator; she is unaware of the magnitude of this decision and the passion its overturn will engender in 2022. As the story progresses, the narrator begins to grow in her understanding of sexuality and gender, but her perceptions of “straight” and “gay” are limited by a 1970s sensibility.
Traveling a Slant Rhyme is intentionally written as a personally lived experience, as a counterpoint to complement the more removed and objective accounts and analysis of major twentieth-century events that historians and reporters provide. The novel records those precious details of time, place, circumstance, and nuance that might otherwise slip through the cracks of time, lost to future generations. We experience, for example, a young American girl’s first encounter with a bidet in her French dorm room. We learn that the toilet (WC/water closet) and the shower (douche) are in two separate rooms down the hall and that the toilet paper is coarse and brown. When our protagonist is befriended by a group of young Arabs, we hear their take on the ongoing Arab-Israel War and become aware of cultural abuse inflicted on a sensitive Arab artist and a racial slur embodied by the French epithet tête d’Arabe.
About the Author
Christine Davis Merriman is a Maryland-based author, a ripening Baby Boomer whose auto-fiction recounts and re-examines what it has been like, from the inside-out, growing up and living through the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. As a counterpoint to reports and commentary from news media and historians, she captures one woman’s unique perspective of an era that carries great impact even as it draws to a close. As a former program coordinator/writer for a Johns Hopkins maternal and child health affiliate, Christine traveled extensively in the developing world. She lives with her husband, Jack, in a 1930 farmhouse.
Traveling a Slant Rhyme
A Lissa Powers Series #2
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 312
Price: $19.95 (CA $26.95)
Publication Date: OCTOBER 2024
Distributor: IPG/Chicago, Ingram.
Rights sold: All rights available.
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