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
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.
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