WITNESSING: The Seventies by Sidney Bernard

WITNESSING: The Seventies

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Seventies, in these ephemeral essays, seem only a diminuendo of the Sixties, the long receding roar of the underground/counterculturist's faith. Bernard strews the names of the great and the small on the (mostly) New York tableaux where he seems always to be dropping in on parties and receptions. Abbie Hoffman, David McReynolds, George McGovern, Bella Abzug--sure, they're all signposts but Bernard neglects to say of what. This makes his writing very private, like a shared secret, and even when he ventures further afield, to California or London, the spurious intimacy between himself and the reader (of the ""little mags""--where most of these pieces first appeared) is kept up. A drive along Big Sur or a walk down London's Oxford Street is conjured up recognizably, down to the dinky Lyons tea shop, but so what? Political apercus are few, and the most apposite comes early, in a Christmas 1969 opener which glimpses the dawning of ""the politics of self-destruct."" The McGovern loss is portentous too, a watershed missed. More typically, there are literary/artistic musings: a celebration of Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man, a years-later sense that Easy Rider was a ""paradigm of an entire era,"" poetry readings in Berkeley and New York, a visit to a National Book Award tizzy. It's all entre-nous, and rather ostentatiously apart from the ""overground"" which is visited now and then in quick forays. Bernard published This Way to the Apocalypse: The 1960s in 1969, so the present volume does seem premature.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1977
Publisher: Horizon