When Baader Met Meinhof

Erin Cosgrove's 'Romance Novel' Mixes Anarchist Dingbats with Fabio Fabulousness


The real Cosgrove was born in '69, an auspicious year for a love commando, but also a time when the idealism of protest seemed concrete. Now, with the harsh boot of fascism replaced by the velvet fist of the G-8, her characters seem like stand-ins for those whose days of dissent are behind them. When Mara muses, "From RAF to NPR, maybe that's what it means to grow up," the satire is biting, and it's not a love bite. Yet Cosgrove remains ever the romantic, painting a charming, autumn-dappled campus, where students overcome their apathy through "Capitalism Must Fund Its Own Demise! Day": Kids dash about the streets slapping cardboard cutouts of explosions onto the Gap's windows and then hand out literature so the locals will understand "why the targets were chosen and what steps they should take in the future in order to throw off their chains."

Paperback writer: Will the real Erin Cosgrove please stand up?
photo: Diane Collins
Paperback writer: Will the real Erin Cosgrove please stand up?

Perhaps for you, gentle reader, this primer on urban guerrillas exposing the fascist face of capitalism is all just revolutionary name-checking—Carlos the Jackal, Marx, Mumia, Mulder and Scully—adding frisson to a night spent corled up with a pint of Haagen-Dazs and your favorite cat. Its the kind of book you'll want to read while moving your lips. But maybe, in this Age of Ashcroft, it's un-American to make fun of terrorism. Yet if we can't have some laughs, or at least get laid—oops, that should be ride the frothy stallion of ecstasy—then surely, the terrorists have won. And, being true romantics, they let their actions do their talking. Allow Andreas Baader, he of the outlaw looks and skintight trousers, the last word. While training at a Palestinian guerrilla camp, the RAF women outraged their Muslim hosts with nude sunbathing. When confronted, Baader chivalrously cut to the quick: "The anti-imperialist struggle and sexual emancipation go hand in hand—fucking and shooting are the same thing!"

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