Speakable Things

When I was 39 I saw an episode of thirtysomething for the first time, in a hotel room because I love watching TV in bed on vacation. I wanted to write something smart about it, if only here for my own satisfaction. This seems like recent history, but it was two visits to New Orleans ago.

In Meghan Daum's new essay collection, The Unspeakable, she writes about freaking out, except she explains freaking out more eloquently, after realizing how much older she is than the cast of thirtysomething and The Big Chill (which I tried watching for the first time earlier this year–it's really something one can't watch alone). Knowing there was an essay about this subject made me pre-order her book (only the day before release, it turned out) the first time I've ever done such a thing.

I think I need to read the essay again even though I haven't finished the entire book because my short term memory is that poor. I wanted to see what her angle would be, how an insightful writer handled it, and what stuck out was not the thesis really but how at 44 she relates more to boomers than millennials.

I just do not agree at all–and feel no allegiance one way or the other. I get that from a tech, and consequently an etiquette, perspective a bigger change has happened between my teenage years and a perhaps someone 32 vs 52, but I'm very resistant to literary luddite-ism. There is no reason for anyone in their 40s to be the modern equivalent of the aging mom who can't program a VCR or set up her printer.

That said, The New York Times reviewed her book today, and as much as I'd like to resist identifying with the opening paragraph, I can't.

Once upon a time, in the early 1990s,” Meghan Daum writes in “The Unspeakable,” her new essay collection, Generation X was “the cohort people were interested in.” The author, 44, is squarely a member of that generation, never more clearly than when she asks herself, “How did I get to be middle aged without really growing up?

About books…unless I stop blogging and watching TV and trying to cook up side projects that have yet to come to fruition, I am never going to read all of the books on my Kindle (or my Kindle app–dammit, I'm not a boomer!) and more specifically finish Middlemarch (pretty sure I've given up) or Moby Dick (not admitting defeat). Even the teen on The Affair was being diligent and reading Moby Dick in bed, but who knows how accurate that was since the whole show is about skewed memories and individual retellings and the dad is a cheater Brooklyn public school teacher who owns a brownstone and would probably like the idea that his son is diligently reading Moby Dick in bed instead of Snapchatting. 

The New York Times soothed me once again today after printing the list of favorite, not necessarily new, books that selected writers had read in 2014, and Moby Dick made film critic Dana Stevens' list after taking 15 years to get through it.

I just started this year, so I have 14 more left before calling it quits. 

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