San Francisco Review of Books
Book Review: ‘Failure to Appear : Resistance, Identity and Loss. A Memoir’ by Emily L. Quint Freeman
Read the full review – www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com
by Emily L. Quint Freeman
Special to Lesbian.com – www.lesbian.com
WOMEN & WORDS
A true story about a closet within a closet
Last fall, I asked some women writers to be advance readers and review my memoir, Failure to Appear, Resistance, Identity and Loss.
Read the full review – www.womenwords.org
REVIEW BY AMOS LASSEN
Emily Freeman’s “Failure to Appear: Resistance, Identity and Loss” is the story of “a lesbian of conscience who became a fugitive, on the run for over nineteen years using several identities.”
Read the full review – www.reviewsbyamoslassen.com
AMAZON – HALL OF FAME – TOP100 REVIEWER
5.0 out of 5 stars
The impact of a singularly important life
Reviewed in the United States on March 1, 2020
Format: paperback and e-book
Author Emily L. Quint Freeman has not only written one of the more powerfully impressive memoirs, but she also has been and continues to be an activist for human rights, peace, and social justice. During her career as an insurance and risk management specialist for professional liability, computer security and privacy risks, she has been often quoted and interviewed on CNN Evening News, NPR, and The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and many other important formats.
And while she is now considered a significant voice, her memoir shares the tough life she has lead that brought her to this stature. Emily graduated UC Berkeley in 1967 and while at Berkeley she became an activist for those turbulent times – the fallout of the Vietnam War and racism. Declaring herself to be a lesbian troublemaker, she was disowned by her family, joined a group of Movement activists organizing against the Vietnam War, became a draft counselor, and was arrested in 1969 for burning draft records of 40,000 men – going underground toward the end of her federal trial for nineteen years from 1970 – 1989. That underground period was impacted by the AIDS crisis, women’s rights, gay liberation movements, and racial conflicts.
Emily’s near-incredible memoir is offered with such fine prose that the journey on which she ushers us becomes a personal one for the reader: were it only possible that each of us had the courage to experience the life she has lead! As she opens, ‘My Story begins with a name; Linda J. Quint. The J is in memory of my great-grandfather Joseph, who was a peddler fleeing pogroms and conscription into the Tsarist army. Like so many Jewish immigrants, he booked steerage passage to Ellis Island sometime between 1890 and 1900. He arrived with a sack and a name tag pinned to his chest, knowing no one….’ From that seed of reflection Emily’s life unfolds in a manner that fully captures our attention and our emotions.
There are many aspects of Emily’s life that focus our attention – identity, family, sexuality, commitment to beliefs, conscience – each delivered in a most memorable manner. This is an important book on many levels: a fascinating story, a beacon of light and hope, and a record of an historic period of public resistance in the 1960s that is a heritage to honor. Very highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 20
“Failure to Appear is a fierce coming of age story of a political activist, a young woman and of a generation. When it becomes as clear to the reader as it does to Emily Freeman that “In a mad country, it’s sane to be insane” the urgency of being a part of progressive change is a body slam that takes your breath away. That visceral response is even stronger when we understand that this truth is as crucial today as it was in our country’s past. This book takes its place alongside the searing and sensitive memoirs of other moral dissenters who’ve helped change the course of our history.”
“This is a thoroughly detailed document of a lesbian in a closet within a closet. As compelling as a novel, it brings back the conflicts and clashes of the 1960s, the misunderstood compassion for our soldiers in Vietnam, and the consequences of one woman’s principled and inspiring resistance. I was ever eager to return to her story each time I had to put it down.”
“Failure to Appear is a page-turner, a powerful and courageous story of a woman risking everything to stand up for what is right and for her own truth. Her details are stunning, humorous and sensuous as she lives life underground, cut off from family and friends. Ultimately, the book inspires all of us to fight for what is right and to be our true selves.”
“This is a compelling, important book for a snapshot of one woman’s tumultuous life at an equally tumultuous time in the United States. Amid the backdrop of the Vietnam War, she fought a war with her family and society to be who she was, with who she loved, and to fight for others with the same ferocity.
With sections of the book based on the name she used at the time, the author – by every name – paints a harrowing, unique tale of survival through her own resilience and the help of friends she meets along the way.
The writing has an immediacy and vulnerability that made it difficult to put down. I wanted to read more of her tale, and hope she’s found her peace and a safe place to finally relax and enjoy being herself. An example of the style:
“I rub my hands over my face. So far, I’ve been ruled by raw fear. Something deep down inside me whispers, this is all wrong. You don’t belong in a revolutionary cell. You’re not full of testosterone. You’re the girl who loved Ferdinand the bull, who refused to fight and die in the arena.”
I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
I met Emily Freeman 50 years ago in a Quaker-sponsored draft counseling office in Chicago. Lots of people gave me lots of advice about how to avoid going to Vietnam to fight in a war I could not support. Emily and I talked for less than 45 minutes. Her words with their cool moral clarity decided my course of action. On the morning I was to report for U.S. Army bootcamp, I went to Toronto, Canada, where I became a wanted-by-the-FBI fugitive and where I still live and work as a university professor. A few years ago, I searched for Emily. She had changed her name to avoid capture, so she was hard to find. I wanted to thank Emily for her gift to my life. I felt thrilled when I found her through a published excerpt of Failure to Appear. I found not only the person who helped me change my life but an amazing (first time!) writer. Her astonishing memoir brings alive the terrifying, confusing, exhilarating times (lates 60s early 70s) when everything sacred—our nation, our personal identities, our relationships to family—imploded and forced us to re-invent ourselves. Failure to Appear offers its readers beautiful moving stories, can’t-put-it-down suspense, and a vivid, unromanticised picture of courage and integrity. America needs this story NOW.”
“Emily is a skilled storyteller. I couldn’t stop reading this book once I started. She makes the reader feel the same feelings of isolation she felt and then you follow her on a journey back to herself. Great read!
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.”