cover image Sixties People

Sixties People

Jane Stern. Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57050-1

This witty and frivolous evocation of surfers, political protesters, Beatlemaniacs and others who made the '60s era what it was looks backward in fond reverie with occasionally breathless prose. The Sterns ( Elvis World ) don't intend to turn a sobersided historical perspective on their own youthful heyday; in celebrating the '60s spirit of untrammeled individualism, they compose giddy set pieces. A chapter on ``perky girls'' (``enchanted pixies,'' embodied by actress Marlo Thomas) is deliciously flirtatious, echoing its gigglesome subjects--but the same tone becomes inane and condescending in championing the ``young vulgarians'' of working-class South Philadelphia and the Bronx (they ``positively dripped with splendiferous cheapness'') and reducing the beliefs of the Black Panthers to mere ``trendy thought'' (the Panthers' appeal ``can be understood by looking at their taste in hats''). Few writers can top the Sterns when they consider food and its milieu, but their wistful, playful tryst with nostalgia here is equal parts fluff and skill. Photos not seen by PW. 30,000 first printing. (Feb.)