The intellectual who told us it was OK to like The Supremes, that you don’t have to dig the De Kooning painting as long as you understand how it affects you, that each of our personal struggles to define who we are should not be open for discussions of their relative cultural worth, has written another fictionalized historical novel that vividly illuminates some very similar ideas.

Susan Sontag, author of the seminal work On Photography, several essays on art criticism and more recently, The Volcano Lover, brings us In America, a story of a young Polish actress who immigrates to California in 1876 to begin a utopian society. Based on a true story, Sontag describes the woman’s route to self-discovery, from the failure of her idealistic commune to her embrace of her original craft, which ultimately brings her success. What’s different and interesting about the novel is Sontag’s description of a young America as a fantasy world, an escape, a blank slate on which culture is being created and transformed. Sontag will discuss her new novel at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh Thursday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. Call 828-1588 for details.