The 1920s was a decade of bold fashion, the rise of jazz music, the emergence of new technology and the discovery of the Lost Generation. The spirit of the decade was marked by a general feeling of novelty — a break with tradition. Anything and everything seemed feasible through modern technology. Exuberant Americans kicked up their heels, embracing a lifestyle viewed by many at the time as outrageous.
In Roaring Twenties slang, “mazuma” means cash, “cash” means smooch, a “sinker” is a doughnut — if someone asks for “giggle water,” they’d like an alcoholic beverage and “whoopee” still refers to having a good time. Prohibition was in force and gangsters found a foothold into American culture. A new era of literature was starting to emerge with the discovery of Lost Generation — a generation of writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals that came of age during the First World War. The unprecedented carnage and destruction of the war stripped their illusions about democracy, peace, and prosperity, and many expressed doubt and cynicism in their artistic endeavors. Some of the most famous Lost Generation writers were F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.
During the 1920s, many Americans had extra money to spend, and they spent it on consumer goods such as clothing, radios, telephones, electrical appliances, movies and automobiles. The media, funded by the new industry of mass-market advertising driving consumer demand, focused on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars, as cities rooted for their home teams and filled the new palatial cinemas and gigantic sports stadiums.
That was then, and now 2020 is here with its own promise. The rise of technology-based businesses — the replacement of the old yellow taxi by ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft. Social media has already left its mark on fashion, music and society as a whole.
If you are feeling nostalgic for a return to an era like the Roaring Twenties, check out the historical fiction titles below or have a look at some of the original works by Lost Generation authors like The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot or perhaps an expatriate like Hemingway is more your cup of “noodle juice” — that’s ‘20s slang for tea. The Harlem Renaissance, an evolution of the neighborhood as a black cultural mecca and the subsequent social and artistic explosion that resulted, gave roots to Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.
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