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Premature Biographication

Posted by Joshua Glenn  February 5, 2008 01:22 PM

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I have received many emails from readers who don't think I'm crazy to slice up America's recent generations into such finely calibrated cohorts. Which is very gratifying, thanks. But I've been asked, by my editor, not to post any long entries on this topic for a while, and I agree that this is probably wise. So my deep insights about the Boomers, the Netters, and others will just have to marinate for a while.

However, in response to a number of e-mails asking me to identify trends in the cultural output of the so-called PC Generation (so-called by me, anyway), here's a quick answer.

Those of us born between 1964 and 1973 apparently feel nostalgic for our youths -- long before we become middle-aged, let alone old. Memoirs written by my fellow PCers before they turned 40 -- or 30, in several cases -- include the following titles:

* Elizabeth Wurtzel, "Prozac Nation" (1994)


* David Bennahum, "Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace" (1998)

* David Eggers, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" (2000)


* Jennifer Lauck, "Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found" (2001)

* Travis Culley, "The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power" (2001)

* Elizabeth Wurtzel, "More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction" (2001)

* Jennifer Lauck, "Still Waters" (2002)

* Augusten Burroughs, "Running With Scissors" (2002)

* Stephen Glass, "The Fabulist" (2003)

* James Frey, "A Million Little Pieces" (2003)

* Dito Montiel, "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" (2003)

* Jennifer Lauck, "Show Me the Way" (2004)

* Bo Peabody, "Lucky or Smart?" (2004)

* Alison Smith, "Name All The Animals" (2004)

* Sean Wilsey, "Oh the Glory of It All" (2005)

* Chuck Klosterman, "Killing Yourself to Live" (2005)


UPDATE: Rich Cohen, "Sweet and Low" (2006) -- really a memoir about his family

UPDATE: Elizabeth Gilbert, "Eat, Pray, Love" (2006)

* Susanna Sonnenberg, "Her Last Death" (2007)

* Shalom Auslander, "Foreskin's Lament" (2007)

UPDATE: Shauna James Ahern, "Gluten-Free Girl" (2007)

UPDATE: Dan Kennedy, "Rock On" (2008)

UPDATE: Margaret B. Jones/Margaret Seltzer, "Love and Consequences" (2008); note that Ms. Jones/Seltzer was either born in 1974 or in '75, both of which would make her (barely) ineligible for this list.

UPDATE: Robert Rummel-Hudson, "Schuyler's Monster" (2008)

Plus, there's Noah Baumbach's 2005 movie, "The Squid and the Whale."

I know there are other examples of this phenomenon. If you think of one, please leave a comment here or e-mail me!

UPDATE: Kathryn Harrison was born in 1961, sorry, readers. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

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2 comments so far...
  1. Daniel Harris's "A Memoir of No One in Particular" is good satire on this phenomenon.

    Posted by Seth Tisue February 9, 08 02:16 PM
  1. I'd say Lucy Grealy, but she doesn't really count because she was born in 1963. Autobiography of a Face came out in 1994 which made her 31. She missed the list by 6 months.

    Also, I think Tim Guest's My Life in Orange doesn't count because he was probably born after the PCer stage ended.

    Posted by Adam Herbst March 7, 08 04:11 PM
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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