Monday, September 15, 2014

1964: Books

It is 1964 here this week to celebrate my trip next week to DC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the class that graduated the year before me. (It is more a reunion of the cheerleaders for me). I attended a very small school in Wyncote, PA and my graduating class was 21. The class of 1964 was 14.

So I have been thinking of that year and what was going on. I am starting with the books that graced the NYT Bestseller list of that week. Only one way to gauge what people were reading, I know, but a handy one.

Four books especially the first, dominated the best seller list in 1964. THE SPY was the biggest seller of the year.

THE GROUP, Mary McCarthy
HERZOG, Saul Bellow
THE RECTOR OF JUSTIN, Louis Auchinclos

I was a big fan of all four of these writers but may have not read these books until later.
Some of the other dominant books that year were: THIS ROUGH MAGIC (Mary Stewart), THE HAT ON THE BED (John O'Hara), CANDY (Terry Southern) ARMAGEDDON, Leon Uris, several books by Ian Flemming, THE MAN, Irving Wallace, JULIAN, Gore Vidal.

John Updike won the National Book Award for THE CENTAUR. 

Many of the non-fiction books dealt with the recent Kennedy assassination.

Some of the crime fiction that debuted that year included: A CARIBBEAN MYSTERY, Agatha Christie, THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE, John D. MacDonald, POP 1280, Jim Thompson, FROM DOON WITH DEATH, Ruth Rendell, THE PERFECT MURDER, H.R. Keating

The Edgar went to  Eric Ambler for THE LIGHT OF DAY. 

Did you read any of these before or later?


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, I'd forgotten about Louis Auchincloss. He was such a fine writer. I read his THE EMBEZZLER some two decades ago.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I read all his books once upon a time.

Anonymous said...

I read quite a few of them, though probably many were later. I was obsessed with the Kennedy assassination and read a lot of books, including some of the crackpot ones.

I read the five mysteries listed, but all later (the MacDonald well before the others), plus the Le Carre and McCarthy and O'Hara. The others I remember reading at that time were the James Bond books, which I read one after the other, and CANDY.

Never read the Auchincloss. My favorite story about him comes from Pete Hamill's memoir, when he talks about the two bonding over their shared love for Bomba the Jungle Boy books.

Jeff M.

mybillcrider said...

I've read a lot of those, Patti. I read most of them as they came out in paperback. I was reading the James Bond books as soon as I could get my hands on them. THE CENTAUR remains one of my favorites.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yep. That was his best book, I think.
And I think we all were obsessed with the assassination. Read all the books too.

Anonymous said...

Patti - Oh, some of those bring back memories (the Stewart, the Uris and the LeCarre in particular). Oh, and the Christie, the Rendell and the Keating too. It was quite a year for books.

George said...

I was a fan of Louis Auchincloss, too. Back in 1964 I was binging on science fiction paperbacks. I was reading one a day.

Charles Gramlich said...

The Deep Blue Goodbye! What a great book.

Rick Robinson said...

I was in the Army in 1964, went to basic training in January of that year, so there wasn't much reading being done by me. I read a few paperbacks from the post used book store, a lending deal with really beat up books, but that was about it.

I did read many of the books later, in paperback, and enjoyed them, especially the Le Carre and the Bond books and of course the JDM.

TracyK said...

Wow, that puts things in perspective. I knew that Rendell had been writing a long time, but did not realize she published the first Inspector Wexford when I was in high school. I am sure I did not discover her books until later. This was very interesting.

Deb said...

I was seven in 1964, so you know my reading had to catch up! Although I do remember looking at my morher's copy of The Carpetbaggers and being unable to make head nor tail of it. I think the Rendell was her first published--a slim book, no more than 150 pages. Compare that to the doorstops she publishes today!

Cap'n Bob said...

I read Candy in paperback.

Anonymous said...

Ditto, Cap'n.

Another book I discovered then was LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER, when I was babysitting. It was an eye opener.

Rendell's first book was indeed 1964. I didn't discover her until 1975, when I read her first six books in a couple of weeks.

My favorite CARPETBAGGERS story comes from Jackie, who apparently scored points in school by being the only one who knew what a proxy was. She learned it from Harold Robbins.

Jeff M.

Deb said...

He could write a pretty good story--always with a roman-a-clef element. I went through a phase where I read a lot of his books. In Michael Korda's book, he wrote about how difficult Robbins was to edit--very touchy about any proposed changes. In one draft, Robbins changed the name of the hero midway through; Korda claims Robbins would not allow the name to be made consistent throughout and the book was published as it was turned in by Robbins...and no reader ever complained! (Perhaps they were too busy looking for the sex scenes.)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I,am fairly certain I never read Robbins and also that I wish Jackie and I had hung out!

Todd Mason said...

Well, by late August of 1964, I was struggling to focus my eyes, and might even have begun to eat mushy food by the end of the year. So, while I've read a good chunk of these, it wasn't too commonly at the time of publication nor for some years afterward. The first I read some of was CANDY ca. 1975, and first read Harold Robbins about then or a little before (but it was the ridiculous, later THE BETSY).

Ron Scheer said...

Enjoyed your readers' comments. 1964 was the year I graduated from college, spent the summer bumming around Europe, then started grad school. I remember picking up a copy of GRAPES OF WRATH in Barcelona. After that it was probably THE FAERIE QUEEN. Yikes.

Unknown said...

I read many of these in the late 60s and 70s, and still reread Eric Ambler, Ruth Rendell, the MacDonalds, John LeCarre and Len Deighton. I read two Robbins, The Adventurers and the Carpetbaggers, and thought they were pretty good at the time.