Judith Freeman and Ursula K. Le Guin at Powell’s Books, 1989

“The relationship between feminism and religion, and religion and the state are topics a lot of us are thinking about right now.  I’m posting this text of an introduction Ursula K. Le Guin delivered when I appeared at Powell’s Books in June 2016, at a reading from my memoir, “The Latter Days.”  Ursula is one of the writers and thinkers who has been most valuable and helpful to me in forging my own identity as a writer, the girl who, as she puts it, blundered into freedom.  When my first novel was published in 1989 Ursula introduced me at a reading at Powell’s.  The picture above is from that first event, the one that led to our deep friendship. Ursula died in January, two years ago.

“Judith came to Powell’s back in 1989 to read from her first novel, The Chinchilla Farm.  I am happy to welcome her back to read from her new memoir, which gives us the real-life background of that wonderful story of how a girl can blunder into freedom. 

Latter Days tells us about what life’s like when your religion is also your government — a government whose decisions are unarguable because authorized directly by God. 

The men who wrote the U.S. Constitution were so afraid of the terrific power of a religious state and so aware of the difficulty of combining a hierarchical religion with a democratic government, that – after honest and civil acknowledgments to God — they wrote religion right out of the government of the United States. 

Ever since then, organized believers have struggled to sneak it back in. The “religious Right” that is such a powerful force in our politics is not just fundamentalist Christian but also, less noisily, Mormon. Though there are fewer Mormons than Jews (under 6 million) in the United States, we haven’t yet had a Jewish candidate for President, but we just had a Mormon one.  The Mormon establishment offers radical conservatives a successful model of non-militarized control of civil life by a religious hierarchy — politically reactionary, patriotic, pro-capitalist, intensely secretive, and entirely male. 

Judith Freeman tells us about being a girl growing up inside a power structure that is in many ways like an Islamic state.  We see and feel the trust, the security, the real happiness, that prevail in that society — and the subjection of thought to belief, of freedom to authority, and of women to men. Judith is stunningly honest – and yes, she is under ex-communication for it – and also stunningly unresentful.  She’s not taking revenge on anybody.  She’s hate-free.   She’s just getting some air and light into a secretive corner of our troubled Republic.  This is a fascinating, timely book – and a very moving one.” 

Ursula K. Le Guin

Essays

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Judith Freeman is the author of the following works of fiction: Family Attractions, The Chinchilla FarmA Desert of Pure FeelingRed Water, Set for Life, and the nonfiction book: The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and The Woman He Loved.

Her memoir, The Latter Days, published in 2016 by Pantheon Books, was called a “must-read memoir” by the Chicago Tribune and selected as one of NPR’s best books of the year.

Here are a few reactions to the memoir:

“The Latter Days, written with thoughtful, hard-won honesty, is the record of a girl growing up in a closed society rigidly governed by a male religious hierarchy-a profoundly undemocratic system that claims to embody American values. Painfully but with no rancor, Freeman makes vivid the security of belonging and the rewards of obedience, the costs of security and obedience, and the rewards and costs of seeking freedom. A brave and valuable book.”  – Ursula K Le Guin, author of The Left Hand of Darkness

“A poignant, searching memoir of self-discovery.” – Kirkus Reviews

“An affecting and tender memoir.” –  Ron Carlson

“A beautiful, surprising, elegant memoir” – Janet Fitch

What Critics Are Saying About The Long Embrace:

“Compelling . . . Ms. Freeman knows Los Angeles as well as Marlowe himself . . . Like Cissy, when she crooks her finger, it’s impossible not to follow.” – The New York Times

“Aches with emotion and loneliness. . . Until now, no other book has made us view this great American writer afresh.” – Los Angeles Times

“May be the essential book on Raymond Chandler. Like his books, it offers a rational solution to a puzzle while at the same time retaining a sense of mystery.” – Chicago Tribune

“Complex and delicate . . . enthralled and enthralling . . The Long Embrace is one of the literary events of the year.”  – Los Angeles Magazine

“Atmospheric and unusual . . . A restless hallucination of a book about a woman obsessed by a mystery that she knows she will never solve—and perhaps does not wish to solve.”  – The New York Review of Books

Judith Freeman and Ursula K. Le Guin at Powell’s Books, 1989

“The relationship between feminism and religion, and religion and the state are topics a lot of us are thinking about right now.  I’m posting this text of an introduction Ursula K. Le Guin delivered when I appeared at Powell’s Books in June 2016, at a reading from my memoir, “The Latter Days.”  Ursula is one of the writers and thinkers who has been most valuable and helpful to me in forging my own identity as a writer, the girl who, as she puts it, blundered into freedom.  When my first novel was published in 1989 Ursula introduced me at a reading at Powell’s.  The picture above is from that first event, the one that led to our deep friendship. Ursula died in January, two years ago.

“Judith came to Powell’s back in 1989 to read from her first novel, The Chinchilla Farm.  I am happy to welcome her back to read from her new memoir, which gives us the real-life background of that wonderful story of how a girl can blunder into freedom. 

Latter Days tells us about what life’s like when your religion is also your government — a government whose decisions are unarguable because authorized directly by God. 

The men who wrote the U.S. Constitution were so afraid of the terrific power of a religious state and so aware of the difficulty of combining a hierarchical religion with a democratic government, that – after honest and civil acknowledgments to God — they wrote religion right out of the government of the United States. 

Ever since then, organized believers have struggled to sneak it back in. The “religious Right” that is such a powerful force in our politics is not just fundamentalist Christian but also, less noisily, Mormon. Though there are fewer Mormons than Jews (under 6 million) in the United States, we haven’t yet had a Jewish candidate for President, but we just had a Mormon one.  The Mormon establishment offers radical conservatives a successful model of non-militarized control of civil life by a religious hierarchy — politically reactionary, patriotic, pro-capitalist, intensely secretive, and entirely male. 

Judith Freeman tells us about being a girl growing up inside a power structure that is in many ways like an Islamic state.  We see and feel the trust, the security, the real happiness, that prevail in that society — and the subjection of thought to belief, of freedom to authority, and of women to men. Judith is stunningly honest – and yes, she is under ex-communication for it – and also stunningly unresentful.  She’s not taking revenge on anybody.  She’s hate-free.   She’s just getting some air and light into a secretive corner of our troubled Republic.  This is a fascinating, timely book – and a very moving one.” 

Ursula K. Le Guin


The Latter Days
The Latter Days

The Long Embrace
The Long Embrace

Book Cover - Red Water
Red Water

A Desert of Pure Feeling
A Desert of Pure Feeling

Set For Life
Set For Life

The Chinchilla Farm
The Chinchilla Farm

Family Attractions
Family Attractions

Copyright 2021 – Judith Freeman – all rights reserved.

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