Memoirs of a Terrorist

By Sally Patterson Tubach

Subjects: Feminist
Series: SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Paperback : 9780791430064, 174 pages, September 1996
Hardcover : 9780791430057, 174 pages, July 1996

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Table of contents

Prologue In Hell

I. Growing Up

II. Berkeley, USA

III. Göttingen, Germany

IV. Scenes from a Marriage

V. Dallas, Texas

VI. Autobahn Dogfight

VII. The Summer Solstice

VIII. The Corpse

IX. Flight

X. Empire de la Mort

XI. Quicksand

XII. Prison Diary


This is a haunting experimental novel about a daughter raped by her father, and the consequences of repressing this memory. In a parallel narrative, the father analyzes the posthumous writings of his daughter for clues to her thoughts and behavior.


Memoirs of a Terrorist is a gripping experimental novel about a young woman raped at the age of fifteen by her father. Having repressed this crime from her conscious awareness, Megan Lloyd's short intense life becomes a quest for sexual and human identity. A privileged daughter from suburban southern California, the heroine writes about early periods of her life in revolutionary Berkeley as well as later events in Malibu, Dallas, Munich, and finally, Paris. Her failure to bring the repressed crime to consciousness reveals a tragic blind spot from which emerges the sexual bondage murder of her lover in a Munich hotel.

The heroine's internal story is told by her fragmentary diaries and stories that her father retrieves after her death as a suspected terrorist in Europe. As he approaches his own death years later, Arthur Lloyd attempts to comprehend his daughter by analyzing her texts, and finally confesses his crime to the reader. Thus two narrative voices, one male and one female, intersect, clash, and reinforce each other in this rich and complex text that weaves a tale of sexual violence and portrays quests for insight and redemption.

In Memoirs of a Terrorist the female body becomes the theater in which repression, gender, social relations, and haphazard natural events are played out. The novel is many things: a feminist picaresque story of development and decay, a psychological thriller, a haunting murder mystery and work of symbolism and myth in which the reader must ultimately answer the questions: Who is the real terrorist? Can the criminal find absolution? Is there any escape from the cycle of violence? Memoirs of a Terrorist confronts some of the most troubling issues of contemporary American society.

Sally Patterson Tubach has co-authored two books, Michael Mann: Fragmente eines Lebens and The Challenge of Age.


"The breath-taking first novel of a genuine literary talent, Memoirs of a Terrorist portrays the initiation journey of a young American woman sexually traumatized in her childhood, who fails at academic life in Berkeley, murders a lover in Europe, and dies in the prime of her youth. Her story is redeemed, however, by a parallel quest and confession of the father who violated her but later engages in a search for the history of her life, which he tries to reconstruct piece by piece. Set against a backdrop of historical and social realism, the story descends into darkness and labyrinths. An array of mythological figures and archetypes is evoked throughout this haunting erotic narrative, and skillfully woven into its complex texture. "—Antoine Faivre, Sorbonne

"Memoirs of a Terrorist raises the intimate crime of incest to the level of world politics. Both thriller and polemic, it takes the reader on a dazzling journey from Malibu to Munich, from Dallas to the murky nether world of Paris. ..terrifying in its implications. "— Carolyn See, author of Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America

". ..a truly innovative first novel. Two narrators, father and daughter, create a fascinating point-counterpoint with their individual perspectives in a story of gender violence set in America and western Europe during the politically turbulent seventies. This book presents a tale of mobility and mayhem that courses through an individual female body and across continents; an exciting experiment in fictionalintertextuality that will rivet both American and European readers. "—Christa Karpenstein-EBbach, writer and critic