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X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking Hardcover – March 27, 2008

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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)
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"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."

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (March 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670018589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670018581
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #839,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lydia Ash on May 7, 2008
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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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dervish 33 on April 2, 2008
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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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on April 9, 2008
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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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John Newman on January 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After viewing Jeff Gordinier's YouTube pitch for X Saves the World, I was excited to get my hands on a copy. The idea of Gen-X being sidelined by Boomer-owned media and markets, the career-stifling Gray Ceiling, and the consumptive behavior of Gen-Y are all regular dinner-table discussions in my circle. I am happy to see these ideas addressed, and tore through the first half of the book with self-congratulatory glee.

Gordinier's writing is excellent, easy to read, and draws from a robust vocabulary. The flow of words is sweet; an unequivocal demonstration of his mastery already substantially supported by his hefty curriculum vitae.

I was appreciative of his attempts to define the pivotal events that marked the beginning and end of Gen-X's reign in pop culture, in spite of his overt Nirvana-centralism. Personally, I feel that the marginalization and counter-current character of Gen-X was more aptly captured by musical artists such as Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Primus, Alice in Chains, Pantera, Tom Waits, Nick Cave... all putting forth their messages prior to the MTV world premiere of Teen Spirit. I digress. It was Gordinier's point to define the moment that X hit pop culture like a ton of bricks, and he made many throwbacks to Mudhoney, The Smiths, The Pixies, and so on. Fine. He did a good job describing what X means, who Xers are, and why X didn't fit the expectations of the Boomers. He succinctly describes the collapse of X-ethos under the unbearable weight of the Millenial "echo boom," and sorts wonderfully the indolent shortcoming in Gen-Y's ability to filter the crap from their culture.

Where Gordinier fails, he fails superbly. There are times where I put the book down to ponder not what was written, but what was blatantly missed.
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