I recently finished reading a great new novel set in Boulder CO. I feel this novel deserves wider readership, so I am posting a review I wrote for this book here.

Plastic Man: A Novel of the Sixties by Dan Culberson is the perfect novel for Baby Boomers...and for anyone who has ever experienced the angst of burgeoning adulthood. It is a witty, engaging, and insightful account of college life in Boulder Colorado in the 1960’s, an era in which tumultuous societal change mirrored the vicissitudes and emotional upheavals that have always characterized human adolescence.

Much like the protagonist in his quest to find redemption in the “huge vastness” and “spilling wonderment” of the sea, activists of the Sixties, appalled at perceived social injustices, sought a “sea change” in social policy and popular culture. Readers of Plastic Man will follow Hud’s long journey (both emotionally and geographically) to the sea, and share in his disappointment/enlightenment when he finally glimpses his personal holy grail. Hud’s experience serves as a reminder that, while the hopes and dreams of the Baby Boomer generation eventually fell short of reality, there were invaluable lessons learned in the pursuit of those idealistic goals.

The story of Plastic Man is told with humor and empathy. Those of us who came of age in the Sixties cannot fail to identify with the events and youthful emotions portrayed in the novel. Younger readers should note that, despite the many contrasts between the popular culture of the Sixties and that of later eras, it is the similarities that are more profound. If ever a novel illuminated the paradoxical truism that “the more things change, the more they stay the same," this is it. Human adolescents will always push the limits of authoritarian rules, agonize at the vicissitudes of young love, worry about grades, seek to “fit in” while standing out, and be traumatized by tragedies befalling their peers.

Many facets of this novel distinguish it from other fictionalized “coming-of-age in the Sixties” accounts. The author’s numerous glimpses forward illustrate clearly the specific ways in which popular culture has changed since the decade of the Sixties. The novel is peppered with amusing puns and word play, along with lingo and musical references that those of us who lived through the era will instantly recognize, perhaps with nostalgia for “the old days.” Moreover, there is an underlying mystery that keeps the reader keenly interested until the final pages of the novel.

If you read this book, one thing is for sure: The sentence “It’s Saturday, by God!” will take on new and hilarious meaning. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.

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Here's another unsolicited review from a fraternity brother of the author's:

Dan, I finished Plastic Man which I thoroughly enjoyed because of the style in which it was written, the memories it brought back of CU and of Fort Leonard Wood, and the cut-out-the-crap type of philosophizing.

(I don’t think I’ve had a thought about Waynesville in 40 years or so. Mentioning it in your book brought back some memories about a few buddies in basic and of a couple of nights out together, the details of which I would never dare pass along to my wife or daughter.)

If I wasn’t on the edge of senility, I’d memorize some of the paragraphs so I could gleefully repeat them at the next ‘cocktail party’ I attend, especially when some 65 year old woman wants to tell me why her life is now on track, finally, after reading the 26th or 27th self-help book.

A lot of the situations in our lives must have been similar and as I read along I thought to myself, “Now, why didn’t I think of saying that at the time?”

There IS a lot of bullshit in life and mostly it’s something I’ve just dealt with or put up with, albeit not always willingly, because I knew at the time it was in my best long-term interest to do so. (It happens when you’re working for someone else and need the money.) I appreciate the ways you must have handled it, or at least how you think about it now.

A few years ago I started volunteering in the ER, and that’s a good reality check. I’ve met about every kind of person in every kind of bad situation. It helps keep things in perspective.

Again, a great read. Thanks for letting me know it had been published.




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