Nostalgia is death to good fiction, I suspect. After all, its essence is a kind
of sugar-coating, or at least a willful misunderstanding of the jagged edges of
the past. That's why it's seductive, and fun. But real people don't live their
lives in Currier and Ives. Nostalgia puts the big picture--whether an idyllic
town common or the summer of love--so much in the foreground that it strangles
the idiosyncrasies, human foibles and petty tragedies that animate great
Peter Fonda's world-weary and guilt-ridden record producer in The Limey is in one
sense a revisionist slam at the sixties--but at least the character has the
positive attribute of recognizable human frailty. I think you are right that,
when authors are able to gain sufficient critical distance, the stories that they
tell will be about the predicaments of life as it is lived, and not about the
wonders of a magic moment in time.
Stories like Gone With the Wind and The Unbearable Lightness of Being bring the
problems of individuals and the larger social forces around them into a wonderful
balance. It would be nice if some of the contributions to this group could
achieve something of that.
> Jeff Apfel,
> You have an interesting perspective and one that I've seen before: It is an
> insurmountable challenge to capture the sixties outside the Vietnam soldier
> framework without falling prey to cliches and idiosyncratic reminiscing -- a
> hollow nostalgia. That may explain the paucity of sixties' literature -- both
> critically and commercially successful fiction -- outside the Vietnam war
> We just honored the 25th anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War and the
> 30th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre. With the passage of time has
> come perspective and maturity -- and maybe even market readiness. Writers
> should now be able to capture the adventure and meaning of the domestic
> sixties with more universally satisfying characters, stories and anecdotes,
> while entertaining and enlightening in the traditions of quality fiction.
> You may be aware that members of this list plan to create a Web site to serve
> as an anthology of sample chapters from their sixties-focused novels -- some
> finished, some underway. Those willing to take this leap must have faith that
> a new genre awaits its heroes.
> I am interested in yours and other's comments about this.
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