Richard Brautigan's breakthrough came in with the enormously popular "Trout Fishing In America". Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" was published in South America, and a political satire called "The Joke" by a young Czech writer named Milan Kundera helped to fan the flames of popular revolt which would be crushed by Soviet forces in Prague a year later. Other poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders came to his aid, but the angry misfit pamphleteer would kill himself in Joseph Heller, unproductive since 's "Catch" finally shows up not as a novelist but as a playwright with "We Bombed In New Haven".
Theatre was transported into a new realm in , though, by the enormous popular success of the first rock musical, "Hair", which presented a nude finale to the tune of "Let The Sunshine In" along with a lot of political and social commentary. The songs were incredibly catchy, but the popularity of this work could not help but hasten the emerging cliche of the media-happy hippie. Kurt Vonnegut's short story collection "Welcome to the Monkey House" was published. Joyce Carol Oates' "Expensive People" presented the first person narration of a Dostoyevskian child-murderer.
Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul on Ice" was a popular manifesto of the Black Panther movement, and Grove Press's edition of Che Guevera's "Bolivian Diaries" further fanned the popular flames of political dissent.
John Updike's raciest book, and one of the hottest sellers of his long career, was 's "Couples", featuring an awful lot of wife swapping and screwing around in an upper class New England town called Tarbox. It's strange today to think that the patrician and refined John Updike was once considered a morally corrupt writer of popular though undeniably well-written sex trash. My favorite Updike book is 's "Too Far To Go", a collection of short stories about a married couple known as the Maples, written and published over the course of three decades.
The book opens in the 's, when the young newlyweds are already clearly dealing with some "issues", and closes in the late 70's when they finally succumb to divorce. The middle stories in this unique book date from the 60's, and it's interesting to glimpse the adults of this age reacting to the excesses of their energetic times, debating Martin Luther King and Vietnam, trying on bikinis, pondering the meaning of married sex in the age of free love.
My favorite Richard Brautigan book, the absolutely shatteringly wierd "In Watermelon Sugar", came out in , as did Norman Mailer's "Armies of the Night" a non-fiction work about the American resistance to the Vietnam war. A new indie publisher called Black Sparrow Press, which continues to publish the works of many writers such as Charles Bukowski in dignified and attractive paper-cover editions, produced its first book, Ron Loewinsohn's "L'Autre".
Jack Kerouac's last full-length novel, "Vanity of Duluoz", was a nostalgic college-age reverie depressingly out of sync with the rest of the world. His "On The Road" friend Neal Cassady died in this year, and Kerouac continued to drink himself closer and closer to death in his Florida hideaway. The Nixon Years Sex was big in The most sensational novel of was Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint", a sexually charged neurotic comedy about a Jewish intellectual struggling to defeat his own repressive instincts, embodied in his overpowering mother.
David R. Reuben, M. In Charles Webb, author of the original novel "The Graduate", tried again with "Love, Roger", a circumspect love story about a shy adult male who, like the author, seemed more than anything else to want to disappear. A musical revue about sexual inhibitions called "Oh Calcutta" was a hit on Broadway in , and included a sketch by John Lennon and many contributions by a dramatist named Jacques Levy who would later help Bob Dylan write songs for the mid's album "Desire". In Kurt Vonnegut finally wrote the masterwork he seemed to have been skirting around for years, "Slaughterhouse-Five", in which he told the shocking story of his own experience as an American prisoner of war witnessing the firebombing of Dresden in World War II.
All the sci-fi trappings, weird aliens and time-travel fantasies in the world couldn't dampen the rage he channeled in this book, which became an instant classic and sealed his reputation. He had already tried this once before, in , but ruined whatever slim chance he had of winning by bizarrely attacking his wife with a knife during a fight at a campaign party. He didn't win the election in either, though at least this time he refrained from stabbing anyone, perhaps in deference to the peace movement.
Joyce Carol Oates continued to hit her stride with "Them". Three major voices of African-American literature, all women, made their debuts in quick succession around this time. Toni Morrison first novel, "The Bluest Eye", was published in The Kent State shootings in May brought the popular American protest against the Vietnam war to it's most critical and dangerous moment. Two centuries earlier, British troops had shot and killed several civilians in what came to be known as the Boston Massacre.
Now, National Guard troops had shot four mild-mannered state university students to death in Ohio, and for a moment, every American had to face the possibility that the nation might succumb to fighting in the streets. The books published in this year do not clearly indicate the turmoil many Americans must have been feeling.
Another strange moment of violence occured in Japan on November 25, Years before, Yukio Mishima had written an acclaimed short story, "Patriotism", about a young soldier who is forced to commit hari-kari with his beautiful wife after a failed military coup. Yukio Mishima had gathered so many followers by that he attempted to stage a real-life political coup himself, occupying a governme nt building in Tokyo with his "army".
When the coup failed he followed the inspiration of his own rivetingly told story, and ritually disemboweled himself in the prescribed fashion. James Michener, a popular author with no ties to the hippie movement, helped calm the national mood by quickly writing an in-depth study of the Kent State shootings, "Kent State: What Happened and Why", which presented the human side of the story and blamed the extremists on both sides for the deaths.
City Lights published "Last of the Moccasins", Charles Plymell's elegy for Wichita, Kansas and the troubled older sister who taught him how to be cool but could not save herself from self-destruction. Amidst all the argumentation, Tom Robbins presented the phenomenon of Jesus returning to an earth not quite ready to receive him in his first novel, "Another Roadside Attraction".
Charles Bukowski 's breakthrough novel, "Post Office," came out in the same year. It is hard to describe today how huge the phenomenon of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" was. Richard Bach's slim paperback with the navy blue cover told of a seagull's coming of age and crisis of confidence before he truly learns to fly. It was a good book but was also somehow just too easy to make fun of, even if it did make a few readers spirits actually take flight in Emmett Grogan, who had been drifting since his days as ringleader for the highly creative and ironic San Francisco social action group known as the Diggers, wrote a thoughtful retrospective of his political education in , entitled "Ringolevio: A Life Played For Keeps".
Gail Parent's "Shiela Levine is Dead and Living in New York" was a hilarious female spin on the "Portnoy's Complaint" theme, only a little more slick and pastuerized than Roth's original. Roth's "The Breast" was about a sexually obsessive male intellectual who actually turns into a single, large women's breast, and sits strapped to a hospital bed.
It's a great joke, a Kafkaesque joke even.
It may have even been inspired by the continuing popularity of Dalton Trumbo's tragic novel "Johnny Got His Gun" about a proud World War I soldier reduced to a lumpish form and strapped to a hospital bed, a book that found new relevance in the Vietnam era. But Roth's version replaces political outrage with sexual neurosis, which may actually be part of the intended joke.
Regardless of the intentions, it is a one-joke novel, which is below the standards expected of a writer like Roth. In general, it was a time for reaching one's own extremes. Kurt Vonnegut produced his most "Vonnegut" book in , "Breakfast of Champions", a wild tour de force supposedly about a craven car salesman named Dwayne Hoover and a lonely science-fiction writer named Kilgore Trout, who were destined to meet and harm each other.
But the book was actually about Kurt Vonnegut, who held the readers hand every paragraph of the way, drawing pictures, telling stories and rarely letting his characters breathe. It was not a bad book, but it got bad reviews and marked an end to the first phase of Vonnegut's career. The book has special meaning to me, though, because as a sixth-grader in it was the very first "grown-up" book I ever read, and I loved the hell out of it. The year brought two late-period hippie classics: first, "The Fan Man" by William Kotzwinkle, which has more fun with language than any book since Burgess's "Clockwork Orange", and introduces the highly useful phrase that goes something like this: "Another dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky day" Kotzwinkle would go on to write the novelizations based on the movie "E.
innupubudab.tk Poet Anne Sexton committed suicide. And Joseph Heller, a writer so reticent as to make Ken Kesey seem prolific, finally wrote a second novel, "Something Happened". The Ford Years and Beyond The Vietnam war ended in highly equivocated defeat in when American forces deserted Saigon, allowing it to fall to the Vietcong. It is necessary for me to wrap this survey up somewhere, so I may as well pick a work I like as the closer.
Gary Snyder won a Pulitzer Prize in for "Turtle Island", a gently thoughtful book of poetry that captures moments of life in a peaceful post-hippie commune in the Sierra Nevadas. This is good as any ending I'm going to find. You see, I can also do "self-referential" as well as any postmodern hippie or Russian novelist. The reason I decided to begin this survey in is that this is the year I was born. And the main reason I am ending it in is not that the Vietnam war ended, but that my childhood was over. I abandoned arena rock to become a punk after witnessing a Ramones concert in early , and I lost my virginity that summer, around the same time that Douglas Adams launched "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".
My innocence was pretty much lost by now, and I think some of America's literary innocence may have been lost around this time as well. So I end this inquiry here. I would like to further develop this area with as many biographies of individual authors as possible, and would appreciate contributions or suggestions. An article on Robert Pirsig is coming soon.
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You have to be careful writing about Gary Snyder, because he's such a Zen guy you get the feeling anything you write will be vastly inferior to silence. Read more and add your thoughts 4 comments.
Lyricist John Perry Barlow tells of the two people, a Beat Generation drifter and a newborn child, who inspired it. He was, other than Langston Hughes, the greatest jazz poet who ever lived Read more and add your thoughts 3 comments. Hunter S. Thompson by Kevin Kizer Monday, July 2, pm. The surprising full life story of Hunter S. Thompson: novelist, journalist, American. I had been reading Baudelaire and thought I remembered Brautigan using Baudelaire in his poems. Here's one Jim Morrison: A "Serious" Poet? An extensive study of the poetic influences, traditions and radical ideals about nature, modernism, shamanism and native culture that inspired Doors singer and lyricist Jim Morrison.