Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kurt Andersen’s five favorite ’60s books

Kurt Andersen is the author of the novels Heyday and Turn of the Century, among other books. He writes for television, film, and the stage, contributes to Vanity Fair, and hosts the public radio program Studio 360. He has previously been a columnist for New York, The New Yorker, and Time, editor in chief of New York, and co-founder of Spy.

His new novel is True Believers.

One of Andersen’s favorite ’60s books, as told to The Daily Beast:
Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968)
by Joan Didion

At age 33, Didion was astonishingly clear-eyed about the discombobulated culture going on around her. Everything was in flux, it seemed, except her unflinching, even-keeled powers of observation and moral analysis. So much written then seems so dated today. But not these essays:

“One of the mixed blessings of being 20 and 21 and even 23 is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened before.”

"[W]hen we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble. And I suspect we are already there.”
Read about the other books on the list.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a book David Rakoff keeps returning to.

--Marshal Zeringue