36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
More Bust Than Boom,
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This review is from: The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasnít My Fault) (And Iíll Never Do It Again) (Kindle Edition)
In his preface and prologue to The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way P.J. O'Rourke warns his reader that his book is "a freehand sketch, not a faithful rendering" of those Americans born between 1946 and 1964, the generation "that made the biggest impression--on ourselves." And that is exactly what he delivers in its opening chapters: an off-key serenade to his generation, sung with his signature irreverent wit and scathing social commentary. Unfortunately, I found O'Rourke's signature style increasingly less effective as the book progresses, making The Baby Boom in my mind more messy rant than pointed satire.
Being a member of the Baby Boom generation, I laughed out loud and nodded in agreement with O'Rourke's observations concerning our generation's innocence self-absorption, our spoiled brat assumptions that "we are the world" and that we will never grow old. But we did grow older, the youngest Boomer is now 50, the oldest 68. O'Rourke even organizes us into classes: freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior, each with its own character, quirks, and famous members (for example, Stephen Colbert is a freshman, Hillary Clinton a senior). He also contrasts us with other generations, especially the Greatest Generation, our parents, who "didn't get divorced" or "hit us much", and who only wanted us to be good and to be happy. I also thoroughly enjoyed O'Rourke's examination of the early influences that define us--the neighborhoods, the games, the schools, the churches, and the sports that made us, to borrow a phrase from the author, the "buttheads" we are today. Throughout these chapters I found O'Rourke's commentary a terrific mix of bravado and bull.
However in subsequent chapters, that terrific mix proved more difficult to sustain. When O'Rourke turns his examination to our adolescence and young adulthood I found the humor increasingly less original. Perhaps it is because there has been so much media exploitation of our clumsy sexual awakenings, our naÔve experimentation with drugs and alcohol, and our burgeoning political and social awareness that much of what O'Rourke writes about concerning the Baby Boom's coming of age seems clichéd, stereotypes too often told. Or perhaps many of the subjects are simply not funny. Bad acid trips, civil rights abuses, student murders at Kent State, and the Vietnam War don't make me laugh. Even O'Rourke admits, after telling us about a friend's death in Vietnam, that "you can't make a joke out of everything. But you can keep trying." And O'Rourke does keep trying, but his wisecracks became increasingly difficult to read, making The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way for me more bust than boom.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 24, 2013 1:25:26 PM PST
PATRICIA L FARRAR says:
The excerpt in AARP magazine was hilarious, so I have to get my hands on the rest. Here's hoping I find the booms you missed.
Posted on Dec 25, 2013 4:39:55 AM PST
C.R. Hurst says:
I hope you do. There is much in it to be enjoyed. Merry Christmas!
Posted on Jan 24, 2014 7:17:41 AM PST
Randall C. Easton says:
I particularly like O'Rourke's articles when I have a chance to see them but after a while I found the book tedious. After a while being serious about almost nothing gets old. I'm younger than P.J. but not that much and I guess I either missed or didn't do much of what he did and at least not to the extent he did. I guess I'm the outlier in that regard but not at least in terms of the rest of the people I knew at that time. I'm probably much less willing to look fondly at all of that wasted time being wasted. Guess it's just me but I'm less inclined to want to read his stuff in the future.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2014 8:24:09 AM PST
C.R. Hurst says:
You make a good point about "being serious about almost nothing gets old." Although I haven't given up on O'Rourke completely, I do wish he would consider developing a more mature style that combines his sharp wit with more serious reflection--even baby boomers can grow up!
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2015 2:20:18 PM PST
dee shanklin says:
Ordered this book before Thanksgiving 2014. It still is not here. d
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