Chris Sorrentino's Trance

On Tuesday night I moseyed on down to The Booksmith for the reading by Chris Sorrentino of his new book Trance, a wide-angle look at the SLA/Patricia Hearst case. Sorrentino said he pretty much concentrated on those aspects that interested or amused him most. He read a scene of Hearst’s father going down to the supermarket, musing on the SLA’s demand that he fork over lots of money to feed the poor (which he did).

I asked Sorrentino what he thought about the spate of books that have come out in recent years on the late sixties/early seventies (on Hearst and the Weathermen). He said that he thought it was probably a pretty reasonable time for younger people to be interested in the history of American radicalism, and that now enough time had passed that we could start to remove the sentimental aspects of earlier histories.

Update: Here’s a funny little story by Michael Scharf on Sorrentino’s visit to Portland (a few days after SF, I believe).

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  • Sharon Roe  On September 28, 2005 at 1:32 am

    I have to confess that I haven’t yet read Trance, as I just learned about it today. It sounds intriguing, however, so I will be looking into it asap.

    The entire episode remains a bizarre part of my college years at Whitman College in the mid-70s.

    My roommate’s family was close to the Hearsts, so as a result, it was very personal and heartfelt experience for her. It became even MORE personal when, seeking to protect sister Annie Hearst, the family sent her to stay with us in our room for several days under the assumed name of Annie McDonald!

    My roommate and I were the only ones who really knew who she was, so it was excruciating for us when friends – mostly guys – would wander into our room, glance down at the Newsweek featuring Patty’s famous photo in which she is sporting a beret, and proclaim, “She’s guilty! She’s part of the whole thing…”

    Needless to say, the only truly worrying thing for those around Annie that week was the fact that no one had told us – even Annie – that the family had hired a bodyguard to shadow her. We kept wondering who the guy was, skulking around the edges of the tennis court as we hit the ball. Was he a member of the SLA?!

    Thankfully, the week in Walla Walla passed without incident, with Annie going out for pizza and to frat parties like any other student.

    I look forward reading Trance.


  • By Book on August 28, 2005 at 6:25 am

    Trance by Christopher Sorrentino

    Christopher Sorrentino’s Trance blends history and fiction to recreate the story of the Symbionese Liberation Army’s 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst, loosely following events to create the same strange effect the news had on the co…

  • […] See this earlier post on Sorrentino’s reading at the Booksmith last year. […]

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