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X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking Paperback – January 27, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nostalgia for the attitudes and culture of the early to mid-'90s looms large in Gordinier's entertaining book-length argument for the greatness of Generation X. Gordinier does not have warm sentiments toward the baby boomers or the current wanna-wanna generation of celebrity worshippers, preferring instead the self-effacing, conflictedly ambitious heroes of the '90s, like Kurt Cobain and Richard Linklater, who were not enthralled by the concept of changing the world. Gordinier has an easygoing style and a comprehensive knowledge of pop culture gleaned from a career writing for Entertainment Weekly and editing Details magazine, and this might be the reason the book sometimes feels like a collection of essays. Sequences on the rise of Nirvana and the burst of the dot-com bubble are ably narrated. And Gordinier does find a fresh perspective in discussions of recent phenomena such as YouTube and American Idol and their relationship to Generation X. (Mar. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"I loved this book. . . . It's impassioned, very quick on its feet, dense with all the right allusions, funny, and in the end actually very moving."
-Nick Hornby

"Ever wonder what became of Generation X, those ironic slackers wedged between the paunchy, tie-dyed boomers and their smug offspring, the millennials? Gordinier's first-person manifesto starts with a thumbnail sketch of '90s disillusionment and ends with a passionate call for social activism."
-Wired
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143115154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143115151
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This was a gift from my father, who said I'd enjoy it. I figured it had to be pretty good, since Gordinier drops the f-bomb early and often and my father does NOT tolerate foul language. If Dad was recommending this in spite of the cursing, I figured I was in for a good read.

I appreciate Gordinier's view that the term "Generation X" doesn't necessarily encompass or exclude those born during a vague time frame--even though I am pretty solidly in the accepted birth date range. "Generation X" is, by Gordinier's definition, an attitude of antipathy towards the manufactured monoculture.

I have two complaints about Gordinier's examples of GenX culture. One is his heavy (and constant) adoration of the band Nirvana. While I agree that their influence on music and culture was enormous, I don't know that they quite deserve the headline spot here. I don't think any single band would. The frequent lauding of Cobain gets a little tiresome. The second is his endorsement of Barack Obama largely because Obama presents an alternative to the Boomer (or older) candidates. If the Republican party had a young, charismatic up-and-comer who was interested in shaking up the system, would Gordinier give that person equal time? I'm not sure. Gordinier's excessively heavy focus on one particular band and one particular political candidate is the only reason I wouldn't give the book four stars. I'm not saying he shouldn't talk up his favorite band and political figure in his own book--I'd just rather he not do it in a book that is supposedly describing a fairly large segment of the population.

A reviewer complained that Gordinier attempts to turn "insipid pop music" into something "cheesily delightful." I believe that reviewer missed a crucial point of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a breath of fresh syntax & cultural analytic.
Gordinier's ability to truly nail certain key moments in the zeitgeist
and make them sing again is wicked good;
whether the tune is happy sad (the moment Nirvana broke)
or just plain gutter tragic (baby hit me one more time).
Gordinier lifts the curtain on obvious truths
that are only obvious once he reveals them.
I love deceptively simple artistic revelations,
and X is chock full of them.
Highly recommended unless you're a millennial, of course,
but then again, you would be too busy taking self portraits for your myspace page to read this in the first place.
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Format: Hardcover
It's hard to be brief about reviewing the best recent book on Generation X. Gordinier's book is an update on the adult Xer and his forgotten place between the narcissistic Boomers and the clueless Generation Y--whom Karen McCullough labels as a group with a "much higher self-esteem than their abilities". Gordinier's book bluntly captures the essence of Generation X transitioning from its last coming-of-age moments in the 90s to its entrepreneurial spirit which brought influenced artistic alternative music and movies, the dot-com boom, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Napster, Youtube, and Google.

Gordinier's writing smacks of sarcasm and in-your-face rhetoric, which is both honest and entertaining. His vocabulary and pop allusions are for those of us who are part of his Xer world. If not, see you you later. Gordinier's writing is a brief dip into nostalgic "Cooler King Moments" such as the arrival of Nirvana. It also lambasts the Boomers at Woodstalk '94 with descriptive passages, and recently their immersion into recycled Beatles nostalgia in Las Vegas. Gordinier also clarifies what it means to recognize kitsch--borrowing on the Czech struggles for freedom in the late 80s.

The first half of the book calls to me, as if it were my finally-discovered anthem. It is an instant classic, starting with the author's 1984 job at Laguna Beach selling ice cream and testing the awareness of tourists with indie alternative music. Pure hilarity! There are other anecdotes and moments that also pique the reader's interests, such as the bookend to the Xer's youth: an escape symbolically depicted with a 1999 Volkswagen Cabrio commercial to the tune of "Pink Moon." Gordinier's scene of a simple South Park neighborhood in San Francisco at the height of the dot-com boom is eerie.
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Format: Paperback
Jeff Gordinier shatters the myth that Generation X are "slackers" (a term I've long tired of seeing in association with my generation). He proves by his numerous pop culture references that Xers aren't "slackers," we're just not into trumpeting *every last thing* we do - and photographing it while we're at it. Besides, we weren't conditioned that way. Indeed, we were the latch key kids, just hanging around while our Boomer parents were into their nostalgia, careers, and themselves.

I was a little disappointed to see that Mr. Gordinier didn't just at least graze how Xers got stuck having to live their parents' second childhood and teenage years in the 1970s and 1980s. Think about it: The programs and music we grew up to, for the most part, were remakes of songs from the 1960s and the biggest TV shows of the 1980s were shows from the 70s and 60s (remember the resurrection of The Monkees in the late-80s?).

One part of the book that resonated with me was when he talked about how "We come from a lost world ... much of what defines us is our ambivalent stuckness between a hunger for the new and an attachment to the old." (Page 125) He goes on to talk about the speed of change in society and that Gen X is forced "...into a state of constant diligence" (125). Gee, and here I was thinking I was alone there.

On the downside: I really didn't appreciate the knocks at The Beatles (none of whom were Boomers). If not for them, chances are real good there wouldn't have been a Nirvana (either the 1990s grunge band nor the original 1960s British psychedelic band). So The Beatles suck, but Nirvana and, worse yet, The Replacements are wonderful? Nope, I don't get that one - at all! (And I loved Nirvana - version grunge.)

In all, though, Mr.
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