by Jennifer Gilmore
$25.00 List Price
Jennifer Gilmore's Something Red opens in the summer of 1979. The hostage crisis in Iran will soon play out; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is imminent. The political stakes are high, but passions are dulled. The Summer of Love and Freedom Summer are dusty memories. Kent State has become a legal settlement. Jimmy Carter, overwhelmed by the nation's "crisis of confidence," sits down in the Oval Office to describe the country's malaise.
At this torpid juncture, Gilmore swoops in on the Goldstein family, gathered at a backyard picnic table in DC to celebrate young Benjamin's departure for freshman year at Brandeis, the alma mater of Angela Davis and Abbie Hoffman. We meet Dennis, a middle-aged bureaucrat in the Department of Agriculture; Sharon, a Silver Palate–type caterer; their sulky teenage daughter, Vanessa. We also meet both sets of grandparents—Sharon's parents, Helen and Herbert, Hollywood conservatives who probably turned in a few colleagues during the Red Scare; and Dennis's parents, Sigmund, a socialist of the old school, famous enough to have made the pages of Benjamin's college textbook, and Tatti, Russian-born and thankful for her exodus from the Soviet Union but nonetheless nostalgic for her home country's past excesses, such as Fabergé eggs and the diamond-studded carriage for the czar.
While politics is in the air, it isn't clear how hard the wind will blow. The party planning provides the hint:
They'd been lying in bed watching President Carter talk about the energy crisis, and she'd opened her night-table drawer, taken out an emery board,