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Beginning to See the Light, Ellen Willis (1981)

The rock memoir that was so much more

by
Emily Gould
September 17, 2013

In this classic of music journalism, Ellen Willis gave us descriptions of the musicians who changed the world in the 1960s and ’70s that remain the truest portraits we have of them. But it’s her personal writing, which touches on feminism and Jewish culture, that keeps this book close to my heart. “Next Year In Jerusalem,” in which Willis goes to Israel to try to intervene in the life of her younger brother, an unlikely convert to Orthodox Judaism, is one of my favorite essays of all time; in it, Willis demonstrates her ability, rare among even the most brilliant writers, to consider frightening ideas thoroughly and to hold contradictory ideas in her mind simultaneously, without prejudice or fear.

Emily Gould is the author of And The Heart Says Whatever and a forthcoming novel, Friendship, and is the co-owner of Emily Books, a feminist publishing project.

Emily Gould is the author of And The Heart Says Whatever and a forthcoming novel, Friendship, and is the co-owner of Emily Books, a feminist publishing project.

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