FITTING IN CROSSWISE AT THE GENERATION GAP by Herbert London

FITTING IN CROSSWISE AT THE GENERATION GAP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The fact that London chooses to dignify his situation by calling himself ""a product of I.C. -- intergenerational confusion"" doesn't make his plight any less banal. Ostensibly this book is about ""value schisms"" and generation gaps -- always a good peg on which to hang an unremarkable life story. London grew up in Brooklyn in the fifties; he was a basketball star and for one fleeting instant a pop singer in embryo. As a young idealist he tells us that he set out to teach in ghetto schools. But finding the kids intractable he scurried back to academia as fast as possible becoming a campus ""ombudsman"" and later a youthful professor working on ""experimental"" educational programs -- programs for which he shows nothing but disdain. His was a background which made him fiercely competitive and achievement oriented: it also made him contemptuous of those who do not share these values. Setting up Consciousness III (does anyone still believe in it?) as his bogeyman, he flays the college students of the 1960's for what he sees as their mindless peace demonstrations, their unwillingness to work and their disrespect for ""the rules."" London's own position can be characterized as disenchanted liberal, or, in his own words, ""militant centrist"" -- whatever that means. If it's a choice between Herbert Marcuse and Herman Kahn he will choose Kahn and if it's Einstein vs. Blake (and why must it be?) he will take Einstein. London would have you believe that he and his generation -- those circa 35 -- are the last rational men in a world of flower children and bomb throwers. But far from being exceptional his political floundering is in fact very ordinary. The only thing that distinguishes his book is its smug self-righteousness.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1974
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap