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The Basement

A Novel of the Sixties


Paperback / softback

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The Basement by Sasha Newborn

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This novel tells the story of the re-entry of a Peace Corps Volunteer, who has served in Tanzania, returning to the United States in the middle of the Sixties, an entirely different country than the one he left. How does he cope, what choices are there to make, whose side is he on (if any)? The story is about finding one's footing in a rapidly changing world, in a rapidly changing body and relationships (or not) with women. The setting is in a college town, a basement rent-free, with plenty of beer and college girls. Meanwhile the narrator's mind goes back to the radically different culture and values of Africa, the assumptions before going, and the political tensions rising in even the simplest actions. The story is illustrated by the author, with scenes and people, to give a sense of place to the episodes. Though the novel is based on reality, part of the story is that reality itself was coming undone, in flux. The theme is, if anything, coping - coping with possibilities, exigencies, sexuality, in a time when it seemed that all options were on the table. The future was to be written in personal lives. One might call it a "coming of age of a late bloomer." Or "a piece of recent history from the underbelly of society." A sci-fi novel by the same author, The Martian Testament, explores the settlement, and unsettling conditions, on Mars twenty years or so from now. The book is at

Author Biography

Sasha Newborn relied on his personal experience for this tale of culture shock, coming back to the United States having missed the advent of the Freedom Riders, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the gathering movement against the Vietnam War. The protagonist had a lot of catching up to do. The Peace Corps experience was invaluable for testing one's ideas about the world; it would prove to be a harder task to integrate lessons learned abroad into the tumult of the Sixties in the States. Since the novel, Newborn has gone on to continue in publishing and book making, as a text designer for Black Sparrow Press, as half of a poetry press, Mudborn Press with Judyl Mudfoot, and then solo as Bandanna Books, creating and editing classic texts for college, now nearly 40 years in the business, and, again, coping with changes (mainly digital) within the industry. Writing has become editing, editing edged into publishing.
Release date NZ
February 17th, 2013
Illustrated by Graham Mackintosh Illustrated by Stanley Goldstein
Mudborn Press
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