DREAM TIME: Chapters From the Sixties by Geoffrey O'Brien
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DREAM TIME: Chapters From the Sixties

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O'Brien (Hard-Boiled America, 1981) evokes the long, strange trip of the 60's in a gorgeously original prose montage--part fiction, part autobiography, part you-are-there social history. O'Brien places us in the suburbs in the late 50's and early 60's, describing the gray era of the bomb scare from a child's-eye view. The Camelot glamour of the 60's then kicks in (complete with a brilliant snippet about the unprecedented cool of secret agents). The real magic begins with ""The Paradise of Bourgeois Teenagers""--a spiked homage to the true audience of this book, the bright adventurous youngsters who ventured to the Village to smoke pot and speculate about a brand new world. For a few flaring years, they found that world: ""Acid Revolution"" melts down the wall between the inner and outer reality of the time, ushering in the story of a psychedelic Jack and Jill who seek enlightenment with a passion fueled by the drug-death of a school friend (""Bad Girl""). Alas, the rift in politics that interrupts the innocent, acid-drenched search of experience gives short shift to the real struggles of the era--all of it is attitude and surface flash focusing on the student strikes at Columbia (Viemam is barely mentioned). Finally, as the dream of the 60's spreads from the East Village and San Francisco to the dorms and small towns, Jack and Jill's trip winds down. They fall down into the cool grass in California, just as the paranoia and anxiety and the fatigue eat UP the last tatters of the dream. O'Brien doesn't write a tale of the 60's--he reinvents the whole brilliant, flaring, extravagant state of mind. A wondrous artifact and an experience--a brilliant effort and a joy to read.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1988
Publisher: Viking