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Marilee J. Layman

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06:43 pm: Woman On the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
I read this years ago soon after it was published (1976) and when someone mentioned it about a year ago, I put it on my Amazon wish list. You know how sometimes you actually save money when you put something low-priced in the cart to get free shipping? That's how I got this paperback version.

I remembered the framework of the book, but there was a lot more when I read it again. It's not just a story, it's a presentation of a method of going "green" and saving the world. Our protagonist, Connie (Consuela), is a lower-class Mexican who has married or lived with a number of men and had a child with the first one. Her culture is violent and all the men have died except the last one and he disappeared. She doesn't have any money, but is able to get drugs and in a drug-hazed anger, hit her daughter and broke her wrist. When she admitted to breaking the daughter's wrist at the ER, she went into an awful locked mental ward. She eventually gets out, but her daughter has been adopted and she's back on her own.

She's out walking and suddenly, there's someone next to her that she didn't see come up. With some careful conversation, the someone -- Luciente -- admits that they are from the future. They say they're a sender and Connie is a catcher and that's why they can see and hear each other. In fact, Connie can come to their world in the future to visit.

Connie's niece bangs on her door and comes in beat up and bleeding -- her pimp wants her to abort his child. The pimp forces his way in and Connie breaks a bottle on his nose to make him stop. They take her to the ER, beating her up on the way, and the pimp makes the niece lie to the doctors and Connie goes back to the mental ward.

Connie finally goes to the future and meets a "green" culture where villages try to be self-sufficient, technology is used minimally, and there are lots of parties and memorials. Over the times she visits, the two things that bother her the most are men breastfeeding babies and homosexual sex. She learns that the reason they brought her forward is because there's a decision point in her time -- 1970s -- that will turn the world to their version or to a high-tech version, and they think she can make a difference.

She gets picked for a special project at the mental ward and when she sees the first person who has it (and who commits suicide when they're let out), she asks Luciente -- who turns out to be a woman -- to help her get out. She tries once and doesn't make it. She hits a period where it's hard to reach Luciente and once when she goes forward, finds herself in a high-tech world where people never leave their tiny apartments and women are all whores for contract. Another time when she has trouble getting out, she reaches Luciente in a war.

But the last time she reaches Luciente, she has never been in a war so there's more than two future worlds. Connie decides what she can do to make her war and does it.

I'm not convinced it actually helps, but it was her choice. And of course, it could all be in her head.

There were some interesting phrases:

Lunch was a gray stew and an institutional salad of celery and raisins in orange Jell-O. [I was offered that often in hospitals]

NINO - Nonsense In, Nonsense Out

(In a Chicago elementary school)
"Say sit down."
"Seet down."
"Sit down. Now say it correctly Consoola."
"Sit down."

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