Fiction of the sixties

At his blog, D.G. Myers has a pretty damn good long bibliography of American fiction of the sixties (+600 titles). This period in American publishing seems to have been an unprecedented explosion of literary innovation, and it seems equally overlooked by those who are enthusiastic and by those who deplore the state of literary fiction in America today.

An awful lot of forgotten authors in there, although – as Daniel Green pointed out on Twitter – a few are still missing: Ronald Sukenick, Gilbert Sorrentino, Rudolph Wurlitzer, Marguerite Young, William Goyen, Richard Farina… Even I had to remind Myers of Harry Mathew’s place in there, one of the greatest living American writers in my book. No such bibliography, the moral may be, can ever be complete.

2 Comments


  • I have said all along that my bibliography of ’sixties fiction is a work in progress. But with more than 620 titles listed so far, please be sure to focus on the six names that are missing. The moral is not that no bibliography can ever be complete, but that you can never satisfy carpers.

    Reply

    • Thanks for your comment, D.G.! I appreciate your bibliography a lot, and share your enthusiasm for wanting to understand the publishing trends and chronology of the period — I think I even share your conviction that it was a uniquely exciting time in American fiction. I’m not sure that Daniel Green was carping, but just saying that some authors who are on his list aren’t on your list. Who knows, maybe he just *really* thought Ronald Sukenick, Gilbert Sorrentino, and Richard Farina ought to be on there?

      I do think that no such bibliography ever could be complete — how could one account for all the small press publications which might’ve had poor distribution? what counts as “literary”? a yawning grey area… and I do think we all have our own lists. But, yes, it’s hard to satisfy carpers too!

      This group of authors you mentioned in another post, I found especially interesting, as more than half are unknown to me:

      You will familiarize yourself with all manner of generalizations about postwar American fiction in 21st-century literary journalism without ever encountering the names of Paul Horgan, Allan Seager, Willard Motley, Wright Morris, William Bradford Huie, Hortense Calisher, William Eastlake, J. F. Powers, John Leggett, George P. Elliott, Mary Lee Settle, Isaac Rosenfeld, James B. Hall, Thomas Gallagher, R. V. Cassill, Mario Puzo, Oakley Hall, Warren Miller, John Williams, Vance Bourjaily, Mark Harris, Chandler Brossard, Harry Mark Petrakis, Herbert Gold, Evan S. Connell Jr., Thomas Berger, Leo Litwak, Jack Matthews, Alison Lurie, Wallace Markfield, Edward Lewis Wallant, or Richard Yates.

      I might get around later to looking some of the unknown authors up later. Presently I’m reading a lot of French literature.

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