Title: Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth
Author Name: Ross Eliot
Publication Date & Length: January 6, 2014 – 345pgs
This narrative spans a period from 1998 until 2002, during which in his early twenties, Ross Eliot relocates to Portland, Oregon and eventually moves into the pantry owned by Dr. Babette Ellsworth, an arcane history professor.
Her strange life unfolds in stories, about the 1928 kidnapping in Eastern Washington carried out by a mysterious French woman named Germaine Bonnefont, about life in occupied Europe during World War II, about the Czarist assassin of Rasputin, East Indian soldiers who fought for Nazi Germany and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult perpetrated a 1984 bio-terror attack in Oregon.
In between travels with Dr. Ellsworth, Eliot befriends many unusual people within Portland’s diverse subcultures. These relationships lead to dance parties at historical monuments, Scrabble games with a nocturnal jazzpunk and perilous encounters with a beautiful sex scam artist. Eliot cares for his professor until her tragic final death in 2002. However, Eliot has only begun to uncover the layers of Babette’s story and he delves into Dr. Ellsworth’s complicated lives exposing murkier secrets than ever suspected. From gender and sexuality to religious theory and existential philosophy, it’s an unorthodox love saga between pupil and mentor, yet also an ode for the city of Portland where they live.
While I’ve read a few memoirs in my time, they aren’t my favorite thing to read. However, I picked up this one because it sounded interesting.
At first I’ll admit that I had a very hard time getting into the story. It seemed like fragments of someone’s life just sort of thrown together and it wasn’t all that great since there wasn’t really a whole lot of explanation as to where the story was, why it started there or who the people were that we were reading about. There were many tense changes that I didn’t particularly care for either.
Then we meet Babette. I absolutely adored every word of her story. I loved that she was crazy, but incredibly knowledgeable at the same time. Her story is hard to believe, yet not so hard to believe. I laughed many times at her antics while wondering why she was the way she was. The deeper Ross got to know her and the more she told him, the more I wanted to know.
Until we started getting into too much of Ross’ life, while not completely dull, it wasn’t about Babette, the woman who had sucked me in. The one who had me turning pages as fast as I could. While at times I understood why we were meeting these other people outside of Babette and Ross’ relationship, I also felt that they slowed the story. I hate to say it, but I wanted to know about this woman with so much confusion and twisted tales surrounding her. I did find some happiness that we found that Ross wasn’t all that met the eye at first either (aka he has experiences with both genders), but the relationships sort of were just thrown in there at random times it seemed. Even at the end we have no idea what became of any of the relationships Ross had with anyone in the story even though it has been years since Babette.
There is many questions left unanswered, but I think that’s how life is. You take what answers you can get and have to let the rest stay as speculation. Boy do I wish I’d known what Babette’s deal was with the convent or the erratic changes in her behavior were from… Oh the list goes on. I absolutely loved Babette and her story and was sad to see it end.
Ross Eliot is a writer and commercial fisherman based in Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska. He is best known as publisher and editor of the critically acclaimed counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report from 2006-2011.
He has been featured on National Public Radio and Restore the Republic Radio as well as in periodicals including the Oregonian, Portland Mercury, The Sovereign, Street Roots and Skanner newspapers.
Ross Eliot served as keynote speaker at the 2010 Liberal Gun Club Annual Convention in Chicago and has also testified before the Portland City Council on Second Amendment issues.
A longtime Northwest political activist, he has worked with diverse organizations from the Portland May Day Committee to Portland Pink Pistols and Portland War Resistance League. In Spring of 2010 he organized “Might: Not Just for the Right,” a convention uniting all major 2nd Amendment advocacy groups in Oregon, from right wing usual suspects to those more leftist, anarchist and GLBTQ oriented.
For two years Ross Eliot as DJ Stiefel hosted a radio show featuring subculture music and local bands called “Sentimentale Jugend” on the Portland Radio Authority.
In 2013, wishing to continue writing about gun politics, he started “Occupy the 2nd Amendment,” a weblog more directly focusing on leftist perspectives than AGCR’s general counterculture overview.
January of 2014 saw the unveiling of Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth, Ross Eliot’s first book.
Author’s GoodRead Page