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Columbia County Observer

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Book Review

1969 and Then Some
A Memoir of Romance, Motorcycles, and Lingering Flashbacks of a Golden Age

by Robert Wintner

This is a true story of unfettered freedom and adventure, speed, sex, fun and drugs. It starts out in the late 60s and early 70s when Baby Boomers were passionately coming of age. The author holds nothing back, recounting his exploits  in living color; what it was like  falling in and out with other mostly U.S. kids in their late teens and early twenties on the same agenda-free grand tour of Europe, fearlessly navigating the restless, hungry, idealistic years between adolescence and adulthood. Feeling “the love that was all around us.”

It’s an energetic romp through the hippie years as Wintner tries to find himself and his niche in the world, disdaining the establishment, the Vietnam war, anything phony or just plain wrong for him. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants journey, filled with horny humor and ribald frankness.

About the Author
Robert Wintner has written twelve well-reviewed novels. His book, In a Sweet Magnolia Time, was nominated for both a Pulitzer Prize and a PEN/Faulkner Award. He is also point man on the current campaign to relieve Hawaii reefs of unregulated pressure from the aquarium trade. He founded Snorkel Bob’s Hawaii, Hawaii’s biggest reef outfitter and only snorkel equipment manufacturer. He lives with his wife in Hawaii.

As our long-haired hero zooms from one adventure to another chasing the next high on his trusty moto, he blatantly steers his own course through life, loving one woman after another in those lusty, searching, carefree days. Then returning home, he tries to outsmart the draft, exploring his options, defying “Old Mom’s” continued attempts to set him on a straight and narrow white collar course. He would have none of it, marching to his own drumbeat, for better or worse.

The “And Then Some” years take you through the post-Vietnam war era and beyond as he tries one money-making scheme after another until he hits his stride, eventually settling down to a life in Hawaii with one woman and realizing after a couple of hospitalizations that although he may still be that wild and crazy kid at heart he still has to put up with the vicissitudes of growing up and growing old.

Wintner’s writing style is part stream of consciousness, even psychedelic poetry at times, introspective and philosophical. You feel like you’re in his head when he describes what it’s like to be tripping.  “I felt woefully average without the speed, the feeling, the look, the view, the centrifugal and centripetal forces gently opposed, with me conducting from the podium. This was the World Youth Symphony Philharmonic—or had been till the music slammed into silence…” Pot, speed, LSD were the signs of the times, but through it all Wintner had the sense and survival instincts to stay away from the hard core stuff and land on his feet. This was no slacker, but a young man with a beating heart who insists on finding his own way and never settling.

If you missed this period of history you’ll enjoy his lust-for-life exploits, either breathing a sigh of relief that you can do so vicariously, or wishing you’d been there, up close and personal with him, taking risks, living on the edge, thumbing your nose at the jaded generation that came before.

And if you were fully immersed in that golden era, you’ll enjoy reliving the flashbacks that take you back to a feel-the-love time that we’ll never see quite the likes of again.

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