Comeuppance: Stories from the 1960s
In this collection of stories, Michael Ahn explores different parts of the 1960s, mostly focused around college-age males entering adulthood. And, while many of the stores are set among fraternity life, within each, Ahn deals with the societal changes the 1960s are best known for. Shifting gender roles, racism, and homosexuality all play a role among the stories in Comeuppance, yet don’t come across as after-school specials hammering the lesson home. Fraternity bothers struggling with their homosexuality or acceptance among their brothers, a soldier returning from a tour in Vietnam to be seduced by his high school teacher, and a Jewish kid from Kentucky joining an upstate New York Jewish fraternity all combine to make a well-written, nostalgic collection of stories.
Ahn is a tight writer, not spending unnecessary words on his task; which is harder when writing than one might expect. But he does it with style, creating memorable personalities and situations that evoke the 1960s. And while stories of young men pursuing sex predominate, none becomes too explicit or gratuitous, and it’s done in an entertaining manner, especially for anyone who’s been there themselves. Those who grew up during the 1960s will find much to bring back their own memories of first loves and losses; those after that generation will find common ground both in the stories and in our current state of cultural upheaval.