Set in the early 1970s, A Separate Reality is the story of Mark Grosfeld, a twelve-year-old growing up in Phoenix with politically active liberal Jewish parents. Mark, who is lonely and unhappy, meets Anna Voigt, a teacher who becomes his mentor. Anna, an ex-hippie poet, encourages Mark to write, and he becomes part of a circle of teenagers who meet at Anna’s house to smoke pot and read poetry. She introduces him to the Beats, Zen Buddhism and the popular pseudo-anthropologist, Carlos Castaneda, author of Journey to Ixtlan. Mark goes on a semi-comic suburban vision quest, trying to conduct his life according to the teachings he uncovers in the books he finds through Anna – most significantly, Castaneda’s. Mark soon discovers all these books share the belief that through a loss of “self” one can, somehow, transcend reality. A Separate Reality is a novel about the risks and appeal of the desire to be perfect; a portrait of the artist as a young man in the Seventies.