STARTS AND FINISHES: Coming of Age in the Fifties by Carey Winfrey

STARTS AND FINISHES: Coming of Age in the Fifties

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And just what was so remarkable about coming of age in the fifties? Well, it helps if you went on to become a well-known TV producer (NET's Behind the Lines). It certainly doesn't hurt if you had a famous father (Bill Winfrey, a horse trainer whose most illustrious accomplishment was Native Dancer). And, to be fair, it also helps if you write with enough matter-of-fact immediacy to disarm even people who hate both instant autobiography and the fabulous fifties. Winfrey laconically outlines a childhood whose landmarks were parental squabbles and divorce, summers at Saratoga, painful but eventually enthusiastic adjustment to military school. It's followed by teenage scrapes and' sexual initiation (with a two-hundred-pound whore), and at last dawning literary ambitions. By the turn of the decade, intellectual 'discovery at Columbia under teachers like Steven Marcus alternates with summers at a Marine platoon leaders' training camp. Winfrey signs off in the midst of various personal crises at the end of November, 1963. The genre is hopelessly cliche-ridden, but this understated account occasionally makes you forget.

Pub Date: July 8th, 1975
Publisher: Saturday Review/Dutton