In Olden Times

Occasionally, I'll step back from my own not terribly important problems and try to have empathy for others even when they don't need it. These are successful authors, after all.

Yet, I've been noticing that if you're a funny, balding, Jewish, male author who teaches writing at Columbia, your protagonists will be described as middle-aged even if they are under 40, which by New Yorker standards still qualifies one as young. Gary Shteyngart, who I am talking about at this moment (I've already pondered this issue regarding Sam Lipsyte), is even on said prestigious list.

I have not read "Super Sad True Love Story" yet, but I do know that Lenny Abramov, the main character is 39. Search his name plus middle aged and you get a whole lot of hits. Milo in Lipsyte's, "The Ask" was 38 and was subject to the same label.

Are Jon Hamm, Ewan McGregor, Michael C. Hall and Peter Sarsgaard—all 39-year-olds—also middle-aged? I don't think so.

It must suck to be a schlubby Jewish guy. Perhaps they feel the same pain as Drew Barrymore being called a Cougar two years ago at a mere 33? All while Rod Stewart, 65, persists in making babies.

15 thoughts on “In Olden Times

  1. There was a joke on an recent episode of “Louie” that referred to a hypothetical “middle aged woman” — and then proceeded to describe her a “38 year old Jew”.

  2. sherri: I haven’t watched the last two episodes of Louie yet. I know it’s sort of part of the self-deprecating shtick, but ugh. I always thought of middle-aged (for women, at least) being somewhere between no-longer-child-bearing and senior citizen, like 50-65? Not really 40s and definitely not 30s. So ridiculous…

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