1960s: Print Culture
1960s: Print Culture
American literature thrived in the 1960s, helped along by a culture that valued thinking—especially the thinking of young people who questioned the values of adults. A number of individuals who are now considered among America's best writers placed novels on the bestseller lists, including William Faulkner (1897–1962) with The Reivers (1962), Saul Bellow (1915–) with Herzog (1964), Truman Capote (1924–1984) with In Cold Blood (1966), and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922–) with Slaughterhouse Five (1969). Not all Americans were fond of such serious literature, however, and many turned to lighter fare. Other best-sellers in the decade included the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming (1908–1964), Hotel (1965) and Airport (1968) by Arthur Hailey (1920–), and Valley of the Dolls (1966) by Jacqueline Susann (1921–1974). These "trashier" novels were often made into popular films, a trend that grew increasingly prevalent in the 1960s. Among the surprise hits of the decade were To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), a powerful story of racism set in a small town in Alabama by first-time author Harper Lee (1926–), and Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), the first science-fiction novel to make the New York Times best-seller list, by Robert Heinlein (1907–1988). Another science-fiction novel, Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert (1920–1986), soon attained classic status among science-fiction fans.
Young adult and children's literature grew in popularity during the decade, helped along by increased funding for libraries. The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger (1919–) remained the book that marked the passage into adolescence in America, and it was widely taught in schools. Other books modeled on Salinger's classic, including The Outsider (1967) by S. E. Hinton (1950–) and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) by E. L. Konigsburg (1930–), gave serious literary attention to the trials of growing up and became favorites with young readers. Younger children enjoyed Where the Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak (1928–) and a continuing stream of books from America's best-known children's author, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel; 1904–1991).
The magazine market continued to go through a process of transition that began in the 1950s when more Americans looked to the TV for news and entertainment. The Saturday Evening Post, once considered the essential American magazine, closed its doors in 1969, signaling the end of the era of the general magazine. But new magazines did thrive—if they catered to a specialized audience. Rolling Stone, launched in 1967, became the magazine for lovers of rock and roll. The Advocate was launched the same year to serve a growing homosexual market. Comic-book lovers continued to make up a significant market. They enjoyed the stories told by the leading comic-book company of the decade, Marvel Comics, and its newest creation, the Spider-Man, created in 1962.