American popular culture has lately embraced the 1980s, from the Stephen King–esque Netflix TV show Stranger Things, set in 1983 and ’84,to Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel, Ready Player One, which is steeped in ’80s touchstones, including Back to the Future. These notable works, all reviewed by Kirkus Indie, also tackle events of that era, albeit in very different ways:
Englishman Richard Sheppard found fame in the ’80s as a Los Angeles radio DJ and TV personality after changing his name to “Richard Blade,” a reference to the 1982 film Blade Runner. In his 2017 autobiography, World In My Eyes, he tells of his encounters with seminal bands of the era, including Duran Duran and Berlin. According to Kirkus’ reviewer, he captures “the experience of a generation (perhaps the last) for which rock was the greatest force in the world.”
Philip Dean Walker’s 2016 fiction collection, At Danceteria and Other Stories, offers tales set in the world of ’80s gay nightclubs. The stories feature famous figures, such as Andy Warhol, Liza Minelli, Rock Hudson, Keith Haring, and Madonna, rubbing elbows with fictional characters at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. “Too cleareyed for nostalgia, this volume paints an evocative, painful, but sympathetic portrait of a cultural watershed,” says Kirkus’ starred review.
The end of the 1980s saw the end of the Cold War in Europe, and Patrick Oster’s 2014 spy thriller, The German Club, places its protagonist, a Chicago police detective, right in the middle of the action: West Germany in 1989, where his long-lost brother, a double agent, turns up dead. Kirkus’ reviewer says that Oster “ably ties into the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall” in a “solid, worthwhile espionage thriller.”David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.