This month’s column was inspired by an email exchange between myself and fellow WUer Deb Lacativa, who has recently discovered my work and, it humbly pleases me to say, has become a fan. It’s the reason she’s become a fan that I’d like to focus on here. In a nutshell it’s because we’re so much alike. We’re nearly the same age and shared a ton of common experiences “back in the day” (back, that is, before they had the phrase “back in the day.”) We both understand that we came of age in the golden era between the advent of the Pill and the onset of AIDS; we know what a difference that made.
Here was Deb’s provocative question when she’d finished reading my novel of the 1960s, Lucy in the Sky:
“How does this fucking Zeitgeist thing actually work? Are our experiences so awfully common? How could we both have characters named Jude and Ray? I know! “Hey Jude” and “You can call me Ray,” that’s how. Shit just gets into the gray matter grooves. How did my mother’s friggin’ Chevelle come into play [in your story]? The list goes on, but you’d be bored unless you’d heard me squeal like a stricken goat each time I came across another parity. Were all our experiences that one year so compressed, focused? Did we all get the acid, one way or another? I’m beginning to believe it’s true.”
Deb, I’m beginning to believe it, too. We drank (smoked, snorted, swallowed) from the well of common experience, and as a consequence, our innocent little 1950s-born selves were torn down and rebuilt from scratch in the ‘60s and ‘70s. When people come from the same place and the same time, they shouldn’t be surprised to find that they think the same way.
What I am surprised about is how I have for so long overlooked this obvious reality, and its impact on my reach as an author. [Read more…]