Sixties novels (multiple responses)
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 11:48:34 -0500


From: "Apfel, Jeffrey" <>
Subject: Sixties Novels

Re: the lack of sixites novels. A similar question was raised a while
ago in another internet group devoted to film, and it generated a fair
amount of discussion. It has always struck me as odd that we haven't
seen more cultural product along the lines of that which has been
discussed. After all, the cultural dominance of the Boomers is by now
a much-discussed established fact. And given the much-discussed
narcissistic streak of that generation (my generation, to be sure),
one might have expected lots of cultural product on this topic to be
churned up in the wake in the form of books, movies, etc. But there
is very little. Why?

My own view is that the *mass* politics of the period were fueled a
lot more by a shallow existentialist mood rather than commitment to a
cause per se. I do not intend this as a criticism of the numerous
individuals with sincere beliefs about the war and the personal risks
taken--only that the mass manifestation of these political beliefs had
roots that were somewhat less than political. Anyway, that's how I've
always interpreted the extremely rapid deflation of the mass political
element in the very early 1970's.

My personal belief is that the lack of product on protest proper
evidences a certain--embarrassment?--on the part of the sixties silent
majority. That is, even as they are capable of looking back wistfully
to a period in which life took on much meaning, they are faintly aware
of their playacting and callowness. Hence the failure of movies and
novels on this topic to ever find an audience, even among a generation
one would think would rush to embrace them. This in contrast to the
emergence, quite a few years after the fact, of a vital genre of
Vietnam war films. There, there is no doubt that true life-or-death
issues can produce powerful dramatic fiction.



Subject: Re: Sixties novels (multiple responses)

Sandra ...

As the chatter increases about Sixties novels, some of us are beginning to
exchange messages about an on-line compilation of novel excerpts. If demand
does not yet exist for literature about the Sixties, why don't we create it?

I do not share pessimism about a short lifespan for books (and other works of
art) about the era. Profound social upheaval and conflict will always be
fodder for good works of fiction. Interest in the era will continue to
recycle as passing time gives society greater distance and perspective. Since
most generations experience a "coming of age" period, that alone could
stimulate continuing revival of interest in the stories of a generation that
carried a very big stick to fight an unpopular war and dozens of social

Just for fun, I created a "web" site one evening last week which features my
Sixties novel. In spite of the obvious limitations imposed by AOL's home page
publisher, this page will give you a glimpse of how marketing could help fuel
demand: a little glitz here, a dash of intrigue there.

Perhaps those of us serious about publishing Sixties manuscripts should
schedule a real-time, on-line discussion about this issue. I believe there is
a market; we just have to be innovative and tap it.

Brent Green


From: <>
Subject: Re: Sixties novels (multiple responses)

I think the problem with writing novels about these subjects is that
it is difficult to raise the subject matter above being facile,
simplistic, superficial, self-serving, and trite in this mode. (At
least the ones I've seen) Not a lot of character development and a lot
of stereotyping.

The best treatments of many of these subjects, I believe, came in the
non-fiction novels of the 60s -- Kool Aid Acid Test, Armies of the
Night, Miami & the Siege of Chicago, etc.

I think this has has a great deal to do with why the novel died in the
mid-60s when the dominant literary form became rock. The printed page
just wasn't liquid or kinetic enough to achieve what artists/writers
sought in the 60s. The new journalists pushed print about as far as it
could go but it still was no match for an Acid Test or the Dead on
Dark Star. Just not transportative enough. Too static a form,.

great sixties novels? there were two and perhaps three -- Catch 22,
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion. and
these all came in the late 50s and early sixties. (And please spare me
the rejoinders about Styron, Bellows, etc., it just won't wash as far
as I'm concerned.)

Sorry this is so short -- would love to go into greater detail -- but
work beckons

Vic Flick

The only alternative (and his other possibilities)