By using the techniques of alternate history, Terry Bisson has made his novel of the Sixties, Any Day Now (2012), a better book. Bisson risks alienating mainstream readers with alternate history elements, and genre readers may decide the book is not genre enough. The novel that emerges from this contradiction is one of the best books of 2012.
Those of us who lived through the Sixties, your humble blog
correspondent included, remember it as a time of unpredictable
turmoil and change on every societal axis. Novels of the Sixties, by
their faithfulness to events, a checklist of assassination, war, and
protest, lose that crucial unpredictability. Bisson pulls the rug out
from under readers, events change in unexpected ways, restoring
exactly how it felt to live in the Sixties. In the moment, nothing
was safe or secure, nothing was nailed down.
story follows the coming-of-age journey of a young man from his small
town roots in Kentucky, to college, to a loft in New York City, life
on a commune in Colorado, drugs, politics, revolution, and the
passage of time.
a sentence-by-sentence level this book is exceptional. And funny. And
compact. Maybe too compact. I found myself wanting more scenes with
just about every character, which isn't a bad way to leave the
reader. There are a lot of names tossed out as shorthand for volumes of
information: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, JFK, LBJ, RFK, Abbie
Hoffman, Weathermen, Tet Offensive, Humphrey, MLK, and Malcolm X. I'm
hoping that's not too high a bar for most readers.
is an extraordinary novel about the Sixties, a sly, skewed Sixties.
RudyRucker reviews Any Day Now in Los Angeles Review of Books
Starred review in Publishers Weekly