Here it is:
Baby Boomer Books
Oh joy, a controversy! 78 million people now comprise, and millions more are close to, a demographic category several million others wish would just shut up. The 78 million-plus are Baby Boomers. Late forties and up. The third stage of life. Some Boomers are insisting that third-stage experience will give rise to its own literary genre, while detractors are certain that nothing interesting can possibly happen after 46 and thus no literature can emerge from the Boomer demographic. Stories, after all, require conflict, drama, interesting stuff about which to write. Hmmm.
All literature is about change, about transition. A king dies, conflict ensues, new king happens. Boy meets girl, conflict ensues, both are changed (usually into parents). Aliens/serial killers/heartless corporations threaten, conflict ensues, salvation lies in characters who change under threat in order to slay the beasts. Transition, which cannot occur without conflict, is the cornerstone of stories.
Life involves four major transitions, two of which (birth and death) do not produce literature. They are silent, since we cannot remember our births and cannot write books while dead. The second transition, child-to-adult (innocence to experience), has given us countless myths and the currently wildly popular YA genre.
Claude Nougat, a Rome-based novelist and economist, notes that sheer Boomer numbers created YA forty or fifty years ago. Those same numbers, now mature, are creating a new genre reflecting the third transition – adult-to-sage (experience to wisdom). But is the third transition sufficiently rife with conflict and drama to make literature?
Boomer Lit is about making it, about defining that shadowy divide and crossing it with style. Boomers are beginning to write and read books about themselves in every genre, although Hollywood, ever sensitive to sources of impressive profit, got there first. The Descendants(George Clooney), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Maggie Smith, Judi Dench) and Hope Springs (Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones), to name only three of about fifteen in 2012, are box-office hits. Many more Boomer movies are in the pipeline, Boomerism is a hot topic in the media and there are too many Boomer blogs to count. But Boomer Literature is the turtle in this race, scrambling to catch up.
Why? Not because young people think older people are hopelessly stupid and out of it; that’s perfectly normal. Every generation must define itself in opposition to what has (recently) gone before. The life-threatening leap to wisdom from the precipice of experience cannot interest those still trying to accumulate experience. The attitudes of the young are of no significance here, and cannot be blamed for the dearth of good Boomer literature.
To find out the answer, go to Abigail Padgett’s blog: http://abigailpadgett.wordpress.com/
Yes, boomer lit is no longer a turtle...and given the size of the boomer wave, you can expect boomer lit to go mainstream, but speaking of boomers' transition to the third act in their lives, it might be more painful than expected as a result of the 2008 recession. Look at the article below reporting on recent findings by the American Writers and Artists Inc.: unemployment in the 50+ category has skyrocketed, many have to find money to supplement their income and for boomer writers copywriting could be a solution (for more on this, click here).
Warning: copywriting is not for everyone, you have to write promotional advertising material in such a way that the reader is convinced to take action and buy. And if you are an author, it is clear that copywriting takes away from your writing time. On the other hand, if you decide to self-publish, the experience of being a successful copywriter could come in handy in your own book promotion efforts.
One thing is certain: this long recession, and the pain it inflicts not only on the young but also on boomers who are stuck in long periods of unemployment should be the subject of thoughtful novels raising the issue or perhaps funny ones, turning a painful theme into a moment of entertainment. So far, it doesn't look like that theme has been picked up, though it has in the movies - but not in baby boomer books that I know of...
But I could be wrong on that. If you know of any, please tell us about it in the comments.
English: US Birth Rates from 1909-2008. The red segment is known as the Baby Boomer period. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)