Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pg. 99: Lisa Chamberlain's "Slackonomics"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction by Lisa Chamberlain.

About the book, from the publisher:
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.
Among the early acclaim for the book:
“Despite the fact that I was born during the Eisenhower Administration, I’ve always felt a more natural kinship with Generation X than with my own cohort. And now, just as Gen Xers are (ha!) entering middle age, Lisa Chamberlain’s smart, enterprising and entertaining book has helped me understand some of the reasons why — as well as why I tend to be 51% hopeful about America, notwithstanding our current collective confusion.”
--Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday and host of the radio show Studio 360

“I’m fascinated by Lisa Chamberlain’s funny, thoughtful and surprisingly thorough examination of the forces that shaped Gen Xers’ unique perspectives on the world. … Weaving together pop culture, statistics, observations and anecdotes, Slackonomics is the sort of resonant, witty, highly readable cultural commentary that we were way too self-involved to read (or write) 15 years ago.”
--Heather Havrilesky, Salon

“This book is incredibly easy to read, and full of interesting observations and theories. Reading it is like enjoying five courses at a great dinner party–a Gen X dinner party–with confused and brilliant friends, full of the insights and insecurities of the peculiar demographic of middle class kids who came of age in the 70s and 80s, and can’t stop coming of age. It reflects seriously on the economic challenges faced by a chaotic, and fundamentally romantic, group of Americans.”
--Zephyr Teachout, assistant professor of law at Duke University, and director of Internet organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004

"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."
--Publishers Weekly
Read an excerpt from Slackonomics, and learn more about the book and author at the Slackonomics website.

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.

The Page 99 Test: Slackonomics.

--Marshal Zeringue