Sunday, January 14, 2007


Halfway through January already. Where has the year gone? Anyhoo, here's three novels that are all sort of "the voice of a generation". I'm not sure if it's your generation. I'm square in the middle of what they call "Generation X". I'm not sure if that's worth bragging about, but at least I'm not one of those self-righteous baby-boomers. Like everyone, I consider every generation ever born inferior to my own. Here are their stories...

The rating system is based on how difficult a book is to read, not how good it is. All the books at Hansisgreat come highly recommended.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin
$14.00 at ISBN: 0060964049
** (pretty easy)
Maryann Singleton moves from a small town in the Mid-West to San Francisco. She picked a good time to do it: in the swinging 70s Frisco is a hotbed of sex, drugs, opulence, and mystery. The story revolves around her and her neighbors at 28 Barbary Lane: a post-op transsexual land-lady, her love sick gay pal, the token straight man. This is the first book in a series originally written as a newspaper column favored by the gay community. When AIDS came to the fore in the 80s, a dark shadow stretched over Maupin's work. So give this a try: it's fast and fun, with lovable characters, and outrageous if somewhat far-fetched situations. It's a blast!
American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
$13.45 at ISBN: 0679735771
*** (moderate)
Tales of the brutal cruelty and nauseating excess of a marketing executive in the 1980s. Patrick Bateman lives in a world of cocaine, luxury galas, and $500 entree restaurants while secretly torturing and murdering innocent victims to satiate his maniacal whims. Bateman is the only killer in this book, yet a lot of the other characters feel just as evil. Still, he represents an impulse we all have: the desire to hurt everyone around us whom we consider unworthy of life. My favorite seen involves our dark anti-hero murdering a homeless man begging for money because "it's so cold sleeping on the street every night." Bateman's response? "Why don't you get a f**king job?" followed by the knife through the ribs. Always tragic and disturbing, yet funny since it feeds into the sort of anger and violence we all feel at times. Now a major Hollywood picture worth seeing only for the shots of Christian Bale in tighty-whities. Read the book first.
Generation X
, by Douglas Coupland
$14.95 at ISBN: 031205436X
** (pretty easy)
What's left after the me-me-me 80s? Why, the apathetic and disenfranchised 90s, of course! Andy and his 20-something friends turn their backs on conventional capitalist culture to live in isolation and near-poverty in rural Florida. Coupland defined a generation with this novel. Easy to read because of the short chapters, simpler themes, and margins lined with funny quotes and pictures. My favorite: "Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy". Gen-Xers like myself will find this easy to relate to. Others may find insight into the generation that invented rap music, Internet gambling, and spitting into restaurant food. Comical, touching, and always fun. Coupland remains one of my favorite living fiction writers.

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