Thursday, March 1, 2012

Generation X Without the Banalities

Acid Indigestion Eyes
Subtitle: Collected Essays and Musings on Generation X
By Wayne Lockwood
Codorus Press, December 2011
ISBN 9780983978329

Originally reviewed by TJ "Brewser" for

I was really impressed with "Acid Indigestion Eyes." Believe me, that means something.

Wayne Lockwood was a Generation X columnist in the 1990s, and this is a collection of his columns. As a guy in his 40s who was around for the era that Mr. Lockwood chronicles in this book, I remember all too well the substandard work that a lot of "Generation X columnists" produced. For too many news outlets, the definition of "Generation X columnist" seemed to be: Any staffer in his or her 20s whom the middle-aged members of management thought might "get" whatever the hell the kids are into these days.

So for starters, here's what you WON'T find in "Acid Indigestion Eyes":

--- A cavalcade of sorely dated cultural references.

--- Ruminations on cultural and political issues that are no longer relevant.

--- The smug indifference for which Generation X (justifiably, to some degree) was so notorious.

--- Trite observations and bad writing.

Instead, you'll find the thoughts of a literate, intelligent young man just starting out in the world, and getting some sense of who he is and what he wants out of life. Although this is nonfiction and thus somewhat of a different beast, I wouldn't consider it an exaggeration to put it alongside such works as "The Graduate" in its insightful encapsulation of that period we all go through, one way or another.

To his credit, Mr. Lockwood avoids the trap of so many young writers, who often consider every element of their lives to be the most intense drama imaginable. Mr. Lockwood presents his experiences with an admirably low-key tone, which is far more powerful than histrionics would have been.

He works a low-paying job. Scrounges for discarded furniture. Wonders why people treat him differently when he's wearing a tie than when he isn't. Gets drunk occasionally. Eats too much fast food.

In between, he deals with his relationship with his mother, who suffered a nervous breakdown. He works through his thoughts on politics, religion and mortality.

This juxtaposition of mundane details and big issues is ultimately what makes the book so effective, and so universal - no matter what decade we happen to be in.

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