Sixties novels (multiple responses)

Mon, 27 Jan 1997 02:46:23 -0500


From: (Stu Shiffman and Andi Shechter)
Subject: Sixties novels in drawers

> I have wondered and speculated for several years as to
>why there are (almost) no novels about the anti-war movement or the civil
>rights movement--"sixties novels"--when there are so many hundreds of
>novels from the war in Viet Nam. Perhaps there are also many _unpublished_
>sixties novels. How many of you have them moldering in your desk drawers?

Renny - good question. Er, mine's sitting on the computer - a mystery
novel with roots in the sixties and Berkeley. I miss seeing people "like
me" - activists and former activists - in fiction. I've wanted to find
sixties novels for a long time - mystery ficiton has a few, but like so
many other parts of fiction, messages of "that's old" seem to come through.
Andi Shechter



From: Sandra Hollin Flowers <flowers_s@Mercer.EDU>
Subject: Re: Sixties novels

Add me to the list of people working on a sixties novel. It's
called I HEARD A CRAZY WOMAN SPEAK. The first chapter was published in
1990 in Terry McMillan's BREAKING ICE anthology, although I started it 17
years ago. The opening chapters my agent sent around this past fall got
good rejections :) from several publishers, only one of whom said he was
tired of "the glut of '60s nostalgia," or words to that effect. One
editor is waiting to see the finished manuscript, which I plan to have
done by the end of March.

Obviously I, too, think there is an audience for '60s novels,
perhaps the last such audience there will be. Within five or ten years, I
suspect that interest in sixties novels will go the way of the social
realism novels of the '30s and WWII novels. For the moment, though, it
seems that the time is finally ripe, since our generation is now "in
charge." (But maybe not in the publishing industry, huh?)

I think there would also be a wide younger readership for such
novels. Some of our children remember us during our coming of age era, the
older ones remember bits of the era itself, and they are curious to
understand better how our experiences and values shaped the people they
themselves are becoming. Too, how many of us in academe are fostering an
audience of even younger readers through our sixties courses? (I hope
someone will take up the gauntlet thrown a few weeks ago and do a study of
how many sixties courses are currently being taught. Yeah, right; we all
have the time for a new research project, huh?) I had decided that last
year would be the last time I did a sixties segment in any of my classes.
But the studies have been so well received and are so stimulating to teach
that when the time came to design my syllabi, I couldn't resist including
the era one last time in my freshman seminar course before it becomes
standardized next year. I've been pleased to find that my current
freshmen, most of whose parents were in high school or even junior hi
during the sixties, also find sixties studies provocative, even though
they have no inherited interest in the period.

Given that audience is everything (or at least crucial, if
"everything" is too much of a hyperbolic stretch), what's the _real_
problem publishers have with this focus?

Sandra in Maconga

Sandra Hollin Flowers, Ph.D.
Deparment of English Voice: (912) 752-2813
Mercer University Fax: (912) 757-4956
Macon, GA 31210