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Balsamic Dreams: A Short But Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer Generation Paperback


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Balsamic Dreams: A Short But Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer Generation + Red Lobster, White Trash, & the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America + One for the Books
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031242082X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312420826
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As witty as Michael Lewis, more sarcastic than Bobos in Paradise, bloodthirsty pop culture critic Joe Queenan talks trash about his generation and its "lifestyle über alles philosophy" in his career-capstone screed, Balsamic Dreams. And what distinguishes the baby boomers, in Queenan's acerbic opinion? "They don't ever actually want anything. They just want a huge number of choices.... They have to videotape everything. They have bottomless faith in self-help, though it's obviously not working.... They're stupefyingly self-centered, unbelievably rude, obnoxious beyond belief, and they're everywhere." Queenan bemoans "the frantic attempt by roly-poly middle-aged Republicans [also known as "the Man in the Gray Flannel Track Suit"] to evince an aura of coolness because they possess one (1) Smashing Pumpkins record and two (2) suede jackets with virtually imperceptible leopard spots." He demolishes Paul Allen's Experience Music Project with sentences like buzz bombs. James Ellroy says that Queenan is "half-Calvinist, half-nihilist," and this book proves it. Perhaps most important, Queenan reveals that "middle-aged men who wear baseball caps turned backwards do not look like Puff Daddy. They look like De Niro's doomed moron catcher in Bang the Drum Slowly." --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

What distinguishes the baby boomers? According to film and social critic Queenan (Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon) in this witty, sardonic and heartfelt paen to his fellow aging boomers, they weren't the first generation to sell out "but they were the first generation to sell out and then insist that they hadn't." Deftly distilling the impact of a wide range of events in popular culture, he cites April 21, 1971, as one of "ten days that rocked the world" for boomers, with the release of Carol King's album Tapestry. Meanwhile, recent films such as What Lies Beneath and The Haunting appeal to boomers, he observes, with the message, "Just because you're dead doesn't mean you can't get your life organized." And, he asks, won't someone "admit that La Vita e Bella is Holocaust-denying crap?" Queenan occasionally belabors his humorous conceits (e.g., he ranks baby boomers as the 267th best generation, "right behind the Carthaginians in 220 B.C."). Yet he can also cut to the quick: "We abandoned the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed [for] postdoctoral work in American Studies.... We made millionaires out of nitwits like Deepak Chopra and Tom Clancy while geniuses starved." (June)Forecasts: Queenan's broad, well-defined audience will eat up this cultural criticism lite. With a 12-city author tour and national print ad campaign timed for Father's Day, this self-proclaimed sellout will sell big.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

What is wrong with your generation is, well, stuff like this book.
Scott C. Locklin
I get the feeling Joe Queenan thinks the BBs haven't figured something out yet & have co-opted into a monetary-enhanced facsimile of our parents' lifestyles.
Rebecca Brown
If it doesn't, you are seriously humor-impaired, and should pass it along to a less handicapped friend, who will then owe you a big favor.
Jeffrey M. Richardson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey M. Richardson on May 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What Queenan does is hold up a mirror so that we Boomers can see ourselves, and yes, what he shows us is ugly, but it's hilarious to see ourselves through his distorted lens. You will recognize yourself, your friends, and your relatives. And if you appreciate mean humor, you will have a big grin on your face most of the time you read this. This is a book you will want to share. I want all of my friends and fellow Boomers to read it, because it's such fun. I want my father to read it, so that he can see his offspring put into proper perspective. And I really hope that the individuals that Queenan uses to illustrate particularly vile aspects of our smug self-importance read the book and recognize themselves. But it's about all of us Boomers, and all of us will enjoy a good squirm when we read this. The man is funny. This book will bring you pleasure. If it doesn't, you are seriously humor-impaired, and should pass it along to a less handicapped friend, who will then owe you a big favor. Buy this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lissy Friedman on September 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There is no denying that Balsamic Dreams, by Joe Queenan, is funny, clever, and entertaining to read. But a consequence of being a prolific writer is that readers might read your other books and compare or even prefer them to you latest offering. Such is my assessment of Queenan's most recent book, "Balsamic Dreams," which is subtitled "A Short But Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer Generation.
The book is a loose collection of essays that excoriate, dissect, and firmly pin to the dart board the stereotypical "Baby Boomer" (a term which, with his usual irony, Queenan capitalizes). For Queenan's purposes, the official definition of a Baby Boomer is slightly outside the officially recognized statistical boundaries and includes those born between 1943 and 1960 or 1962. In his "Disclaimer Chapter," Queenan humbly acknowledges his own membership in this group.
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57 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Considering how minuscule were the circulations of both Spy and Movieline, the magazines for which he wrote, I would imagine that most folks were first exposed to Joe Queenan, as I was, on Imus in the Morning. He's absolutely hilarious there : his sarcastic style is ideally suited to the format and he's got Imus continually directing him to new topics at which to spew venom. But after reading several of his books--all of which I've liked, but not loved--I'm beginning to wonder if he doesn't need a better editor to bring some form to his very funny observations.
Queenan's latest book, Balsamic Dreams, is intended to be an indictment of the Baby Boomer Generation, of which he is an embarrassed member. He's operating in what Norman Schwarzkopf might call a target rich environment here, and almost inevitably much of what he has to say is very amusing, even laugh-out-loud funny in places. But somehow, it's not as good a book as it should be.
There are a couple of problems. For one thing, he's really written a series of interconnected essays rather than one sustained indictment. This makes for some rather distracting disorganization and some truly annoying repetition. Worse, he periodically himself gets distracted from the task at hand. I thoroughly enjoyed his attacks on the so-called Greatest Generation and on Gen-X, but in these sections of the book he's essentially defending the Boomers, rather than garroting them, which is what we'd prefer.
The other problem isn't so much structural, it's ideological. Queenan's thesis is that the Boomers started out well, but then sold out. He repeatedly gives them credit for "the Freedom Riders.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Keenley on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Joe Queenan has that rare gift: the ability to be both a social critic and a very funny writer. Here he puts his enormous talent to work in criticizing the Baby Boom Generation. His observations are spot on -- and they will make you laugh out loud.
Ironically, one his most telling observation of the Baby Boomers is that they take themselves way too seriously, a fact that can be aptly seen by the number of negative reviews posted here. I'm sure many of these reviewers are descendants of the people who thought Jonathan Swift actually advocated the eating of Irish children.
Ignore the self-righteous reviewers and buy this book!
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