The sixties have many prominent writers. My personal choice for the most influential writer of the decade is Jack Kerouac, specifically because of the book, On the Road. I came upon an audio book of this title recently through my librarian job. After returning the book through inter library loan it came back to me. When the book came into my hand a second time, I figured it was fate and I listened to it. The reader is David Caradine and it is quite enjoyable.
Hippies were the children of the beatnicks and the beatnicks were the children of the Lost Generation. I've been told that Henry Miller is the grandfather of the hippies.
On the Road romanticized the ethos of traveling to different parts of the country with no jobs and no money. You would meet interesting people on the way and take drugs and have lots of sex with beautiful women.
Hitch hiking and being up late in weird lonely diners in the middle of nowhere is part of the great American dream, when you feel most alive. The baby boomers ate this up like pancakes. Everybody wanted to leave their parents homes and experience life. The life of late night satori, wild women and backpacking.
On the Road was the spiritual father of Easy Rider. The road and being an outsider and having adventures. Today as we drive our children to the orthodontist in our SUV's the call of the road still lies like a vestigial memory yet to be fulfilled. Maybe when we retire we'll take Route 66 from end to end.
editor's note: there are two articles on On the Road in the August 19 New York Times book review.