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Full of it - and proud
on December 9, 2013
Baby Boom compiles a lifetime of clichés from birth, childhood, adolescence, teen, college, and adulthood. It is introduced with these sage words: "I am - it is a writer's vocation and the métier of his age cohort - full of crap."
O'Rourke describes his generation as the first to have too many answers. As high schoolers, everyone wanted to never change from that state. O'Rourke asks us to imagine the world if that had happened. It would be exactly as it is. The generation that invented tackle basketball is now running things. Are there any other questions?
It's a tongue-in-cheek one-up of The Greatest Generation - the Baby Boom's uptight, boring parents. O'Rourke claims the Baby Boom generation is the greatest, and spends the entire book disproving it, while still claiming it. What it all comes down to is nothing- we're still just humans, doing a middling to lousy job of it. Generation labels notwithstanding.
The book operates at three levels. At the lowest and least sharp, O'Rourke relives his own life, with his various friends, neighbors and family being the butt of his humor. The middle level is how they all fit into postwar and new (Viet Nam) war America, with its hypocrisy, politics and prejudice. The top level is by far the best. It is paragraphs of sweeping uncalled for generalizations about the Baby Boom, the Boomers, and American Society. There he swings for the fences, while at the other levels he has to settle for forced clever. So it's all over the place, sometimes wild, sometimes flat, but always trivial.