The 1960s were a volatile time in American history. There were three major political assassinations, The Beatles completely transformed the music world, there was a dirty little war, and the generation gap became a gaping canyon.
Yet teenagers continued to care about the same things teenagers have always cared about. Mainly, for the girls that was “Can I get a boyfriend?” and for the boys, “Will I ever get laid?”
Ken Levine is a bit older than me, but I am old enough to verify that he has got the legitimate feel of what it was like for most American teenagers in the ’60s in The Me Generation… By Me.
From watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan to working part-time jobs to the moon landing to hippies, to Vietnam protests and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy, it’s all here, from the standpoint of a kid who was a little involved with everything but not totally engulfed by anything.
The fact that Levine is a funny guy who wrote for Frasier, among other television shows, makes this book a real treat to read. He knows how to write in a way that is both funny and touching, and when the subject is serious, he knows how to capture that, too. He captures the paranoia we all experienced watching the police and National Guard beat young people and students outside the Democratic Convention, how devastated we were by the television coverage of the war and the extreme fear of waiting to see if your name would be called for the draft.
But Levine also captures the dilemma of whether you date a girl you really don’t like that much because she might let you get to third base; trying to figure out whether or not to ask out a girl you have an extreme crush on, taking the chance of being rejected or just suffer from afar; and other issues like learning to drive, how to dress, and the many day-to-day dramas that kids have dealt with from the dawn of time, probably, and will be dealing with far into the future.
I highly recommend The Me Generation… By Me to anyone who was a kid in the ’60s and anyone who is interested in a realistic, funny story of what it was like in that decade if you weren’t the hippie living in the street or the soldier in Vietnam.