I spend most of my days mulling over the ideas of generational generalizations (say that 3 times fast) for Gen Yers such as myself and buddies. But I wonder if one way to get to the bottom of differences over the ages is to look beyond Gen Y, back into Gen X and more importantly, into the baby boomers. I was very lucky to have fell upon this idea randomly through my constant Wikipedia-searching.
Last week Kristen sent me a post by the Fug girls on my favorite actress, Zooey Deschanel. I have a not-so embarrassingly huge girl crush on her and her bluest eyes. She strikes me as that friend that you can call up when you cant really decide if you want beer or your comfy jeans more, settling on a dive bar down the street that plays “Sweet Caroline” every hour, so you can drink IN your comfy jeans and discuss that always impending road trip that your really going to do this time! And anyone that ALSO celebrates Champagne Thursday like me (Failure to Launch reference. She was the sole reason I spend $20 on that movie. And SJP. and Matthew. And Matthew without his shirt on. Ok I love that movie.) is worthy of my friendship. Anyway, as most people who have a slight stalker status with their undying love do, I named my pet after her. Zoey (The double oo’s seemed a little unnecessary to me) I decided to do a little more research into my little kittys namesake. Wikipedia gave me some fun facts, including the fact that HER namesake is the title character in the JD Salinger short story Franny and Zooey.
JD has never been an author I knew much about, although Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books, as it is with any high school student that realizes how awesome it is that a story about sex, drugs, and rock and roll in NYC by an angst 16 year old scalawag can be considered classic literature to be discussed in school. But I was increasingly interested in Salinger after this naming game plus I remembered a Sex and the City episode when Carrie is dating a guy and realizes she might be with him only because she likes his family so much. His two sisters are named Zooey and Franny and the mom makes a comment that “JD Salinger used to get me high”. How do I find this man?? This man that has slipped himself into American cultural cross-references? Wikipedia, as always, gave me more fun facts! The fact that suck out for me was that he has an alleged love affair with an 18 year old up and coming writer when he was well into his 50s. Midlife crisis or finding new blood for the next literary revolution after his has passed? Well it clearly wasn’t the latter since we aren’t exacting in a writing war against conformity right now. Nicole Richie just wrote a memoir for christ sake. So I looked up who this little typewriter vixen was that stole the heart of this progressive mastermind. Joyce Maynard.
Maynard must have been at her peak when she was with Salinger in the 70’s, because she hasn’t written anything quite as brilliant since her 1972 article, An 18-year-old Looks Back on Life for the New York Times and first published novel, Looking Back. Both of these writings, written when she wasn’t even 20 yet (!), are her views on life in the 60s and as her generation, the baby boomers, grew up. I will admit that I haven’t read the whole article yet (Its roughly 12 pages) but she does an amazing job at making gentle generalizations while retaining everyones individuality and giving credit where credit is due. She makes great references to how current events of the time helped shape the way they lived. All and all, I wish I could write something like that for our generation. I just need to find a 60 year old writing genius to “mentor” me. I wonder if Steven King is available…..