Are you know or have ever been a Sad Young Literary Man

So I’m still reading Keith Gessen’s book, All the Sad Young Literary Men, and even though I still find the title a bit on the pretentious side it fits, and I’m still digging it. My attention did wane a little during the Sam part where he’s going on and on about the great Zionist epic he’s supposed to be writing. I don’t know.  Maybe I was just tired. But it picked up again.

Anyhoo…Reading these fictions (the book jacket reads “fiction” not “novel” or “stories”) about guys in their late 20s and early 30s, out of college and struggling with either grad school or careers or the lack-there-of careers and jobs they don’t like while they try to make some kind of careeer as, well, literary men, made me wonder if I am one of their species. Not exactly, not at this poit in my life. I mean, I have all the angst over my writing efforst which have to bare any … published fruit, but all the single/women stuff is long behind me. I suppose I’d be in that stage that some of these characters may (or may not) enter in the future beyond the narrative(s) of this book. So yeah, I suppose I once was a Sad Young Literary Man, mostly in my grad school years at Western, living in Kalamazoo, especially those last two after graduating and hanging around as adjunct faculty.

Still, my experience did not take place in or anywhere near New York, which seems a vital component of being a SYLM, at least as Gessen is constructing here.

What’s curious is that the novel I am currently working on sort of delves into that stage of one SYLM’s life at that stage just before graduating from undergrad and either going on to grad school or getting a job or whatever.

Ultimately, for me, this book qualifies for X Lit status. In that it is concerned with a particularly kind of youth culture, that stage of life between adolescence and adulthood, however you happen to define those two states. There’s the whole angsting over jobs and higher ideals, and the characters’ want or attempt to opt out of mainstream corporate/consumer culture. Perhaps Gessen wasn’t intending that in any specific way but it is there nonetheless.

Quick additonal note: I like how the one characters, Sam, I think it is, rates his importance in the world by the numbe of hits his name brings up on a Google search. He calls it  “his Google” as in “my Google is shrinking.” Sam even goes so far as to attempt to artificially bump up his Google hit number with some help of a computer savvy friend. This is after he calls the Google offices in order to try inflate his Google. Funny, cool stuff.



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