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The Electric Affinities by Wade Stevenson reviewed

  

 

A book worth reading for the life lessons it recalls, in spite of the ironic fact that the protagonists of this story, by nature of their privileged circumstances, seemed to have been largely exempted from the initiations of life’s burdens and responsibilities at this point in their lives.  It’s the reader’s own hindsight that completes this portrait of an era, set in the summer of 1969. The story revolves around the emotions, observations and uninhibited interactions of a group of young and casual socialites that come together in the Hamptons-Sag Harbor scene and end up hashing out their attractions, impulsive philosophies of man-woman relationships, daydreaming and experimenting with a degree of urgency.

The notion of any memoir of what it was like to be young and engaged in the summer of 1969 gets confused with the grandiosity of myths about the counterculture. But here, the author assures us that being an unformed romantic youth, full of yearning and naïve aspirations, self-indulgent and ardently single-minded,  was no different then, than it is now. Friends give you trouble instead of companionship and family seems indifferent to your real métier.

The narrative flow in this novel reminded me of watching an Eric Rohmer film! Here are the quotidian moments of hanging out on the beach but contemplating the attainment of being elsewhere, moving around at vacation pace, but psychologically sprinting. They strain to be intelligent and articulate, winning over the admiration of their peers, but they frequently fail to live up to their own desires to connect with each other.  There is the contrast between what the characters say and what they are actually doing, and how things turn out, that fuels the drama.

I gave it 5 stars because it’s a great study in social collisions, one which perfectly describes why the baby boomers were also wistfully dubbed the me generation.

— Jane Stevenson

Check out the book here 

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