Words About Time
A sweeping saga of American idealism and disillusionment follows the lives of seven individuals as they struggle to find their place amidst the tumultuous 1960s and 70s.
A sweeping saga of American idealism and disillusionment, Richard Sharp’s exquisite Crystal Ships traces the lives of seven friends through two decades of violence, hope, and cultural change
Sharp spins an epic tale that starts back in the heady days of the Kennedy administration, when Camelot appeared as a shining beacon of hope for all Americans.
But as the years tick on, riots, assassinations, drugs, gender conflicts, and the Vietnam War come crashing into the country’s consciousness.
Through it all, seven very different individuals live out their lives against the backdrop of these monumental events, unwittingly encapsulating the spirit of the time. From a youthful striver from Boston’s Irish working class inspired by JFK, a Harvard-educated would-be poet of the drug culture, and a dedicated Vietnam War volunteer, to an abused aspiring dancer and her repressed girlfriend, a conflicted housewife-career woman and a South African exchange student following the American dream, each individual carries the burden of the times.
Chapter 1: Three Men Walked into a Bar
“Can’t you at least say something?” Shane Stephens handed back Gil Gardner’s draft poem without comment as the transit car pulled up to the platform.
Gil persisted as they exited the MTA station. ‘It’s an old legend for our new frontier, Can’t you see?”
“Isn’t Camelot enough?”
“No. That’s just glorification of noble failure. Mine is about the American dream. Find your own inspiration. Take a chance and struggle to reach it. Damn. Don’t you get it?” Shane said nothing.
Zero hour approached—the end of Shane’s youth, the crossroads of his life. Reading the nautical metaphor on the metro annoyed him, even if Gil meant well. He would not, could not, admit being impressed, though the symbolism was surely relevant at this new horizon of endless possibilities. A positive response to his Princeton graduate school application would transform his life. He could be something. He could make a difference. A negative response would be devastating. He had only one choice—deny the night’s importance.
Shane, his younger brother Connor, and Gil, left the MTA station near Boston’s soon-lamented Scollay Square in silence. Demolitions in preparation for a massive government complex neared completion that March 1963—the close of a difficult era that ended well and beginning of a new one agleam with opportunity. The three graduating college seniors skirted the construction to a still-standing red brick building bearing a simple red neon sign visible through the dust. “Tavern.”