Author refutes scorn heaped on 77 million Americans called “Boomers." Authentic and remarkable novel on 1968 trounces media’s images of her generation

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As protesters around the world find their various motivations for taking to the streets, Bay Area author Elise Frances Miller has penned A Time to Cast Away Stones, a novel reflecting her memories of the “real” people who did the same in 1968. She and her publisher, Sand Hill Review Press, know her novel comes to America just as its hunger for an authentic version of the 60s is peaking. This engrossing story reminds us to look closely, beyond media stereotyping, at the people involved and their motivations.

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Miller will speak at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle on October 6. She looks forward crushing the rampant media stereotyping that has found it profitable to dwell on the relatively small number of social and political radicals. Sexuality, drugs and violence sold more papers than exposing most college students’ day-to-day perseverance and sense of responsibility to get good grades, get into a good school and stay there.

According to Miller, “There has never been a novel that tells the story of that era from the point of view of an eighteen-year-old who loves her family, is shy and insecure, and whose world centers around making good grades and hanging on to her boyfriend. But these were the people I knew at Berkeley in the late 1960s. Were we spoiled? I don’t think so and I want to set the record straight.”

And yet Miller’s novel, A Time to Cast Away Stones turns out to be an incredibly stimulating story, and much more satisfying than painting the era in psychedelic colors. We get to know Janet Magill and her childhood sweetheart, Aaron Becker, as if they were kids on our own block. Janet’s brother is drafted and she worries that Aaron may be next. She decides to protest the war, despite her extreme discomfort in doing so. When her parents find out (no spoilers here), they yank her out of Berkeley and send her to Paris, never suspecting that the mythic city is about to erupt into the only true revolution a Western, capitalist democracy has ever experienced. This is the little-known but historically significant 1968 Paris May Revolution. Along the way, Janet falls in love with a secretive Czech dissident. This adds another dimension to Janet’s political and social education, and complicates her hope that Aaron will evade the draft and join her in Paris.

Miller’s contemporaries will find themselves dredging up and sharing memories as they read. Younger readers – some of Miller’s most engaged, according to early reviews – will enjoy an authentic account that finally presents what all the shouting has been about.

From the ‘greatest generation’ to ‘millennials,’ few defend the 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. So why are boomers so reviled?            
Miller believes that her novel reveals what actually was different about her generation. “We blew the conversation wide open!” she claims. “We made people leave their comfort zone.”

From California to France, nobody had ever spoken so freely and so openly about so many forbidden subjects before. “In that new, open discussion, some saw arrogance and self-centeredness,” Miller said. “Or a willfulness that offended. But I’m proud of opening myself up to creative music, art, fashion, books, and solutions to difficult problems. And of finding language for new values. I argued passionately with my parents,” Miller reveals, “who voted for Goldwater in 1964 while I walked precincts for the Young Democrats. They would never have had those conversations with their parents.”

Miller finds it significant that she will speak at Ravenna Third Place Books at 6504 20th Avenue NE, not far from the University of Washington. Miller’s grown children live in Seattle, and she visits frequently. “I am thrilled to be speaking here,” she says. “I have found Seattle to be a city open to new perspectives. Whatever you believe now about the late 60s, you will be able to relate more closely to the well-researched and well-remembered version of people and events presented in A Time to Cast Away Stones. This is my opportunity to compare memory with myth and to set the record straight.”

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Tory Hartmann
Sand Hill Review Press
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