Spring Street Summer: The Search for a Lost Paradise

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9780394584874: Spring Street Summer: The Search for a Lost Paradise
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Tracking down the people with whom he shared one magical summer in the 1970s, the author recreates that summer, evoking the joy of love and youth and the pain of growing up. 12,500 first printing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Heavy memoir by British novelist/journalist Hudson (Where the Rainbow Ends, 1987, etc.), who goes looking for his younger self that once fleetingly found Paradise in California. Hudson was an established literary journalist in London when in 1976, at age 30, he visited the US on a Harkness Fellowship, ``researching concepts of Paradise in Western thought.'' He asked his mentors at the University of Chicago for an Edenic campus and was directed to the University of California at Santa Cruz (one wonders where they sent students of Hell). Hudson found UCSC congenial, but Paradise itself lay off campus at Topside, an enchanted house in the hills where the author cast aside his English reserve to experience the joys of communal living, nature, and true love. Fifteen years later, he returned to California on a quest for ``C.'' (the initial is his distancing technique) and his former housemates. The result is this memoir, which moves back and forth in time and incorporates chunks of the author's Paradise research. It's an awkward mix: Reflections on Dante and Milton are followed by banal tape-recorded comments of Hudson's former housemates (``I did that relationship stuff early''), most of whom have gravitated into marriages and mainstream America. Hudson discovers a darker side to his recollected Paradise (while he and his lover Laura trysted in the woods, murder victims lay nearby), as well as a C. ``motivated by a desperate unwillingness to let go of his youth.'' What the reader discovers is that, when push came to shove and the author's English girlfriend arrived on the scene, C. was willing enough to let go of Laura and complete his studies in Virginia. Long on pretentiousness (``Apollo had vanquished Dionysus'') and short on rigorous self-examination. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

This graceful stroll down memory lane delivers far more than might be expected given its seemingly simple game plan. Hudson, a British novelist and journalist, intended to return to the scene of what he remembers as his "golden age," a brief interlude in 1976 during which he lived in a large, sun-filled seaside house in Santa Cruz. He was in the States studying the concept of paradise and sought an appropriately idyllic setting. He was certain he had found it when, shortly after his arrival, he happened upon several of his beautiful female housemates working naked in the garden in the company of a friendly snake. He travels back to Santa Cruz 13 years later and tracks down the group he remembers as being so free and easy and discovers that things were not as laid-back as they appeared. As Hudson relates his revelatory conversations with old friends and lovers, he also muses on the history of paradise in the Christian tradition and its deep connection to sin and loss. After recognizing the truth about his past, and weathering the earthquake of 1989, which rattled what little evidence remained of his alleged paradise, Hudson concludes that genuine joy and fulfillment are found in the real world of conflict and change, not in some frozen never-never land of perpetual play. Donna Seaman

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