A writer recalls a journey of failed love and resistance
The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War
by Deb Olin Unferth
Henry Holt and Co.
$24.00 List Price
Deb Olin Unferth’s new memoir of travel and political unrest doesn’t make you wait long to discover how her sojourn works out. Revolution, which tells how in 1987 she and her boyfriend George left college and the United States to travel to Central America and “join the revolution” (actually, any revolution), begins with a brief chapter entitled “McDonald’s,” the restaurant for which Unferth makes a beeline upon returning to the US. “I was thinking about how I already knew what the food I ordered would look like,” she writes. “I knew what the French fries would look like, what the containers would look like, although I’d never been to that particular McDonald’s. . . . There would be toilet paper in the bathrooms.” In the second chapter, Unferth elaborates a little on a voyage that begins in hopeful naïveté and ends with the happy embrace of the plenitude and uniformity of American fast food:
My boyfriend and I went to join the revolution.
We couldn’t find the first revolution.
The second revolution hired us on and then let us go.
We went to the other revolutions in the area—there were several—but every one we came to let us hang around for a few weeks and then made us leave.
We ran out of money and at last we came home.
I was eighteen. That’s the whole story.
And that really is the whole story. Given the simplicity of this short passage, readers should make note of its particular attributes—the affectlessness, the flattened pitch Unferth uses to summon the innocent mind-set of eighteen-year-old Deb and her slightly older lover, the lightweight