Freelance writer Chamberlain's exploration of the social and professional choices of Generation X is a knowledgeable and well-written addition to the growing library of books devoted to the "alternative" generation. The author focuses primarily on the way that the young men and women of the 1990s made their money, and does a nice job conveying the tough economic fortunes of the beginning of that decade and the creative and financial boom of the Internet's early days, as well as the eventual fallout when it went bust. Chamberlain uses each chapter of the book to address a specific aspect of the generation in question, often using a combination of cultural touchstones and sociology books to illustrate her point; a chapter about Gen-X relationships ponders the Richard Linklater film Before Sunrise and quotes extensively from Stephanie Coontz's Marriage, a History. Often, the text is taken over by monologues from Gen-Xers themselves, who narrate their winding paths through the job market, usually ending in creative and relatively fulfilling jobs as a result of their ingenuity. While the book is full of interesting mini-arguments, including an entertaining takedown of Ethan Watters's Urban Tribes, it doesn't present a cohesive vision. Rather, it serves to illuminate the many disparate pockets of a group that continues to resist easy categorization. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destructionby Lisa Chamberlain
Generation X grew up in the 1980s, when Alex P. Keaton was going to be a millionaire by the time he was thirty, greed was good, and social activism was deader than disco. Then globalization and the technological revolution came along, changing everything for a generation faced with bridging the analog and digital worlds. Living in a time of “creative… See more details below
Generation X grew up in the 1980s, when Alex P. Keaton was going to be a millionaire by the time he was thirty, greed was good, and social activism was deader than disco. Then globalization and the technological revolution came along, changing everything for a generation faced with bridging the analog and digital worlds. Living in a time of “creative destruction” – when an old economic order is upended by a new one – has deeply affected everyday life for this generation; from how they work, where they live, how they play, when they marry and have children to their attitudes about love, humor, happiness, and personal fulfillment. Through a sharp and entertaining mix of pop and alt-culture, personal narrative, and economic analysis, author Lisa Chamberlain shows how Generation X has survived and even thrived in the era of creative destruction, but will now be faced with solving economic and environmental problems on a global scale.
Slackonomics doesn't have much to do with economics or with the recent best seller Freakonomics. But then, Chamberlain is forthright about being a freelance writer, not an economist. In a book that is part armchair sociology, part oral history, and part apologia, Chamberlain bounces between the TV sitcom Family Ties and the film Donnie Darko to explain how a strange combination of ennui and passion forged the Generation X Zeitgeist. She illustrates the entrepreneurship of Gen X through the cultural intersection of the films Wall Street and Say Anything. Marriage, friendship, happiness, and other aspects of the human experience get the same VH1 treatment. This generation's saving grace, argues Chamberlain, is its inclination toward creative destruction, that is, its rejection of existing systems and extrusion of only their most vital parts. Chamberlain interviews a handful of people about their alternative career success stories but never provides evidence that her interviewees aren't the exception or that creative destruction is unique to this generation. Her hyperbolic claims and reliance on 1980s-1990s pop culture will likely leave readers of other generations cold. Gen Xers, however, should find this a light, nostalgic, enjoyable read. Recommended for public libraries.
- Da Capo Press
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- 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Meet the Author
Lisa Chamberlain is a regular contributor to the New York Times and the executive director of the Forum for Urban Design. Her writing has also appeared in Salon, New York magazine, and the New York Observer. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of a Village Voice–owned weekly paper. She lives in the East Village in New York City. Please visit her blog at http://slackonomics.com/
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