Carolyn See is a mainstream novelist, so of course Golden Days
does not reflect the latest scientific findings about the effects
of nuclear holocaust. Indeed, there are moments in the book when
it crosses the border into fantasy, as the security-obsessed narrator
becomes involved with Lion Boyce, whose typical California self-enhancement
"seminars" actually seem to work.
Yet such genre issues are unimportant here. What See is telling
us is a tale of human hope and its ability to transcend rational
The narrator emerges from a dismal past into a surprisingly joyful
present -- loving her children, content with her lover, in touch
with a wonderful lunatic friend, and financially secure.
Then comes the holocaust. All her "self-enhancement"
magic can't restore the terrible burns, the sickness, the deaths,
the loss. Yet in a joyful moment after years of bare survival,
the narrator discovers that even in their loneliness on this once-crowded
earth, there is a nobility to their lives. Lion Boyce's over-enthusiastic
words come naturally to her lips; she becomes the storyteller,
the firestarter, even, perhaps, the inspired con artist of the
For the narrator the holocaust becomes a genuine Rapture, because
only a certain kind of person was able to survive: "the wackos,
the ones who used their belief systems . . . the ones who relinquished
control, who took it as it came." See's clear and lovely
style leads us into a book that truly earns its last four sentences.
"But I say there was a race of hardy laughers, mystics, crazies,
who knew their real homes, or who had been drawn to this gold
coast for years, and they lived through the destroying light,
and on, into Light ages.
"You can believe who you want to. But I'm telling you, don't
believe those other guys.
Praise for Golden Days
"If an inspirational novel about nuclear war seems a bit,
well, perverse, that's only the beginning (of the end, of course).
And besides, as Carolyn See asks in this remarkable book, what
could be more perverse than dropping the bomb in the first place?
. . . In its weird way, this may be the most life-affirming novel
I've ever read."
--Carol Sternhell, New York Times Book Review
"This author's passionate purpose is to cry stop to the nuclear
buildup, the immense, out-of-control playground fight that starts
with nothing and can't stop till blood is spilled and something
has 'won.' . . . This is a very, very important book."
--Nora Johnson, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"An adventuresome blend of feminist fiction and nuclear apocalypse
fantasy set in California."
--R. Z. Sheppard, TIME
"Carolyn See makes you proud to be a woman and a little
scared to be a man. But she does this with the wit and resourcefulness
one has got used to as a reader, and victim, of her book reviews.
She ha a penetrating eye and (dare I say it?) a motherly attitude
toward a world whose confusions marvelously irritate her, and,
through her, amuse us." - William F. Buckley, Jr.
"A wonderful book. To read it is to go beyond denial of
the unthinkable to some crazy hope. If such a heroine can be so
truly imagined here and now, she might embolden us to save ourselves."
"I've always admired Carolyn See's novels and this seems
a wild leap forward. A ferociously funny, furiously brave book."
"Carolyn See is quite mad, in both meanings of the word,
and very funny too. I loved every page of this beautiful cuckoohead
book." Anne Lamott