As I approach the end of a re-read of Catch-22 I am again reminded of, and astonished by, the incredible literary wealth of the first few years of the ’60s. Talented authors took on big issues, and achieved novels that commanded wide readership. Everything from Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. These novels frequently exhibited an optimism and hopefulness that was characteristic of the time (at least some of the time). Did the Cuban missile crisis snuff it out? The Kennedy assassination? Was this just the death rattle of the fifties? Even Faulkner had a hopeful message in his Nobel acceptance speech. We seem so much more sophisticated and cynical now. We have so much more, and seem so sad.
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