GenX Divorce Fiction

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.

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Generation X and divorce

I spent some time today searching for statistics on the divorce rates among Generation X. I didn’t find much. Google Generation X and divorce and what you get is the oft stated assertion that many GenXer grew up with divorced parents, and some rather snotty comments about how selfish and spoiled GenX is and therefore must have a lousy divorce rate, comments clearly made by Boomers. Perhaps it is still to soon for such data to be compiled. Or maybe I just suck at internet research.

Anyhoo… my purpose was to educate myself on the numbers since when I start blogging for JenX67 I’ll be mainly writing about being a divorced GenXer and a single dad. I figured I should know a little bit beyond my on experience. So much for that.

If anyone happens to know of any studies or even just news articles about Generation X and divorce, theirs not their parents’, I’d appreciated being  directed to them.

I did come across a collection of short stories and novella, though, that made me think of my most recent post about Omega Males. It’s titled Greetings from Cutler County, by Travis Mulhauser. And initially I was drawn to it because the stories are set in Northern Michigan. Reading the dust jacket flap only increased my interest, since it was clear these were “guy stories.”  But a specific kind of guy stories:

Most of the characters are young men who think of themselves as losers and outsiders. Short on cash, popularity, and the ambition needed for success, they nevertheless are able to examine their failings with the self-knowing humor and resignation of the perpetually thwarted ne’re-do-well.

That’s definitely a description of GenX Omega Male fiction. Hmm. Did I just invent a new sub genre? Quick! To the copyright office.

Maybe, because of the pending divorce and likelihood of losing my job, I’m just  feeling like I’m at a low point in my life but I get the sense that I’m really going to identify with these characters. Some of them anyway.

GenX Pulp

I never go on vacation without taking along at least a couple of books to read. This past weekend, when we went Up North, was no different.

I brought along two short story collections and two novels. But then one day Colleen and I went into Petosky and hit the bookstore while we were there. Colleen wanted something to read, in addition to the stuff she wanted to read for work.

I recommended Into the Woods, by Tana French.

Not because I’d read it but because several of the librarians where I work couldn’t stop praising it. This novel has been getting a lot of buzz, along with her follow up, The Likeness.

I, however, was not planning on getting a book for myself. I don’t often buy books anymore. And I don’t really need to be in the market for a book to browse a bookstore. I just like doing it. But in this case I did buy a book — Severance Package by Duane Swierczynsky. Something about the cover really caught my eye.

It was pulpy and sexy, and kind of comic book-ey. But then I read the little synopsis on the back. And I knew instantly that I was holding a Generation X piece of fiction. GenX pulp fiction, to be precise. Just check one of the blurbs on the back that reads;

“Begs for the next Tarintino to direct.” — Booklist on Severance Package.

Shit. That says it all.

More to the GenX point, the story is about a bunch of employees for a front company that does intelligence work for the government that are called into work one day on a Saturday only to learn that they are being eliminated, by which I mean killed, not just laid off or fired or downsized or whatever the fuck corporate America is calling it these days. The set up includes strong distrust of corporate America as well as the US Government. And it satirizes the corporate climber as soulless psychopathic killer. This, in addition, to enough pop culture references, including at least one Star Wars, is plenty of evidence to cal this cool book a GenX work of fiction. Perhaps not literature in the highest sense of the word, but so fucking what.

I haven’t finished reading it yet, but will no doubt plow through the remainder tonight and tomorrow.