Usually when y0u think about GenX fiction you think about flannel-wearing hipsters working in coffee shops and other young adults slackers stuck in McJobs of all sorts who sit around waxing cynical and showing off their encyclopedic knowledge of movies, music, TV and other forms of pop culture. Not so for for Jonathan Tropper’s novel This is Where I Leave You.
This novel is about a 40-something Judd Foxman whose marriage is on the rocks after his wife has an affair with his boss and friend. Oh yeah, and his father has just died and wants the entire dysfunctional Foxman clan to sit shiva.
I was initially drawn to this novel because first I enjoyed a previous Tropper novel, The Book of Joe, and second because the subject matter seemed germane to my own life. I’m 42 and getting divorced, but not because of a cheating wife, and I’m not Jewish. But still, I was right, even more than I could have imagined. It’s rare that a novel’s subject and themes strike so close to home, but this one did. I’ve been plowing through it all last week and this weekend.
But I was also delighted by the generous use of pop culture references, like the death of Kurt Cobain. There’s even a character that is known for his ability to recall at will scenes from movies and song lyrics. That’s the Generation X part. Suffering through their own divorces is the newert facet of GenX fiction and rightly so — as a generation we’re growing up. I can certainly vouch for that.
I never was able to write my GenX slacker 20-something novel or my GenX 30s boom and bust office drama. Maybe I can do the GenX 40-something divorce saga, with just the right amount of humor and insight. And don’t forget the pop culture references, plenty of pop culture references, because it just wouldn’t be GenX fiction without them. Okay, that’s not a mandatory criteria but it’s one of the major ones.