"In 1970 I realized that the Sixties were passing me by. I had never even smoked a joint, or slept with anyone besides my husband. A year later I had left Nicky, changed my name from Ellen to Rain, and moved to a radical lesbian commune in California named Red Moon Rising, where I was playing the Ten of Hearts in an outdoor production of Alice in Wonderland when two FBI agents arrived to arrest the Red Queen...."
So begins Blanche McCrary Boyd's brilliantly raucous account of self-styled feminist outlaws, their desperate adventures and extraordinary fates. Ellen, the narrator of Boyd's previous novel, The Revolution of Little Girls, this time pierces the heart of the sexual revolution in her quest to find a woman hero or - by default - to become one.
Ferociously paced, Terminal Velocity delineates six wonderfully engaging characters: Artemis Foote, for whom being rich, talented, and beautiful is a kind of game; Jordan, a messianic fugitive who becomes Ellen's lover; Amethyst Woman, a Marxist/Leninist dentist; Ross, a red-diaper baby and now a columnist for Ramparts; and Pearl, an art history professor turned hippie. At the center of this vortex is Ellen, prior to her transformation happily married and a rising young editor at a genteel publishing house in Boston. Together with these women, she is caught in the political and moral tailspin of the Sixties, living in a sexualized world without boundaries that leads them, eventually, to destruction, acceptance, and even redemption.
Deadpan funny and exquisitely moving, Terminal Velocity brings Boyd's lyricism, humor, and depth to material largely unexplored in American literature.