A brilliant, alternative take on sixties swinging London, Jenny Diski offers radical reconsiderations of the social, political, and personal meaning of that turbulent era.
What was Jenny Diski doing in the sixties? A lot: dropping out, taking drugs, buying clothes, having sex, demonstrating, and spending time in mental hospitals. Now, as Diski herself turns sixty years old, she examines what has been lost in the purple haze of nostalgia and selective memory of that era, what endures, and what has always been the same. From the vantage point of London, she takes stock of the Sexual Revolution, the fashion, the drug culture, and the psychiatric movements and education systems of the day. What she discovers is that the ideas of the sixties often paved the way for their antithesis, and that by confusing liberation and libertarianism, a new kind of radicalism would take over both in the UK and America.
Witty, provocative, and gorgeously written, Jenny Diski promises to feed your head with new insights about everything that was, and is, the sixties.
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JENNY DISKI is the author of eight novels and two books of travel/memoir. Her journalism appears regularly in The London Review of Books.Review:
“In this brief volume, Diski brings the period into focus via a largely personal approach.... Ultimately, Diski suggests, the 1960s were more about illusions than revolution. The truth is more prosaic but also more interesting: It was a period in which disposable income, easy access to education and hipster capitalism encouraged an explosion of youthful enthusiasm (and youthful self-indulgence) that, as all youth movements, existed in a bubble, willfully unaware of the complexities of adulthood or even that anyone had ever felt this way before.... It's the measure of this book that she can simultaneously acknowledge this and embrace the messy, hopeful chaos of her own youth, in which "[n]arcissism meets the mirror stage and neither condition actually stops in infancy, especially when the times collude.” ―David Ulin, The Los Angeles Times
“Powerful... Diski has fascinating--and entertaining--things to say about the differences between the '60s generation and their parents, drugs, the sexual revolution, communes, and the difference between America and her native Britain... She recalls (sometimes hilariously) her experience of the '60s... with intelligence, wit, an eye for detail and an extraordinary ability to laugh at her young self while respecting that self's hopes and efforts... Jenny Diski leaves you with plenty to think about, and wanting more.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“The Sixties is Diski at her most characteristically brilliant. . . . She is one of Britain's sharpest social commentators, her writing distinguished by its bleak wit, its honesty and acerbity.” ―Michèle Roberts, Financial Times (UK)
“Involving, buoyant, thought-provoking...at once recalls the decade in a way that those who experienced it will recognize and is a singular rethink of that time. Diski is not polemical or doctrinaire. Her writing is calm and wry and her gift is for thinking about the sixties as if they were happening now.” ―Kate Kellaway, The Observer (London)
“I like to find myself in the writing of Jenny Diski. In her wonderful memoir Skating to Antarctica I recognized her london, and saw her eccentric postwar childhood as a mirror of my own. Her adventure to the ice cap has since become a symbol of my generation's desire to catch the earth before it falls (and we fall with it). The Sixties offers another insightful and accurate mirror of my particular London mod genome, reflecting much of what I remember, and reminding me of much I had forgotten.” ―Pete Townshend
“Mordant, entertaining, and shot through with her customary dry wit, Jenny Diski's view of the sixties is free of the sentimentality that characterizes so many accounts of the decade. Her London life was crossed by many of the most interesting cultural currents of the era, and in this short, personal account she looks back at her younger self with a clear eye and an open mind.” ―Haruki Kunzru, author of My Revolutions
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