“The Girls of Usually” by Lori Hotvitz— Becoming a Hippie Chick

Horvitz, Lori. “The Girls of Usually”, Truman State University Press  2015.

Becoming a Hippie Chick

Amos Lassen

Lori Horvitz grew in a family with up ashamed of her Eastern European Jewish roots and ashamed of them. She was confused about her sexuality and became a “hippie chick” who traveled all over the world in search for something that she was unsure of what it really was. In “The Girls of Usually”, she “chronicles each trip, each romance, each experiment in reinventing herself that draws her closer to discovering the secret door through which she can escape from deep-rooted patterns and accept her own cultural, ethnic, and sexual identity”. For those of us who knew we were gay as we grew up, this is a book that will remind you of what you went through and show you that you were really never alone. It is the honesty of the text that really hits home. Some of the tendencies we read about here are held by so many other people that at times you might feel that you are reading your own story. We especially see the role that internalized homophobia plays in our lives. This is a look at a young artist as she paints her self-portrait.

We also see New York in the 1980s with its hedonistic behavior and the shock that was felt when AIDS hit the city. The book is composed of short essays about Jewishness, about sexuality, subscribing to the mainstream and so much more.

Author Lori Horvitz has led an interesting life as she dealt with her lesbianism and her religion. What was missing for me was a look at the inside of her life so that I could better understand what down her to have so much sex with males and females and why she always seemed to feel the need to continue traveling. Obviously something drove her to run from commitment and from her family. If this was how she understood herself, I would have liked to know why. On the other hand, I see the book as a great place from which to discuss sexuality.

I see this as part memoir and part creative writing and while each essay stands on its own when take together they are autobiographical. We read of Horvitz’s family life, her mother, her mother’s death and how her relationship with her mother affected her life. The essays on AIDS are wonderfully written and we sense what it was to be in New York City in the 80s when everyone seemed to know someone with the disease.


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