Boomer1by Published 18 Sep 2018
|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
Bluegrass musician, former journalist and editor, and now PhD in English, Mark Brumfeld has arrived at his thirties with significant debt and no steady prospects. His girlfriend Cassie—a punk bassist in an all-female band, who fled her Midwestern childhood for a new identity—finds work at a “new media” company. When Cassie refuses his marriage proposal, Mark leaves New York and returns to the basement of his childhood home in the Baltimore suburbs.
Desperate and humiliated, Mark begins to post a series of online video monologues that critique Baby Boomers and their powerful hold on the job market. But as his videos go viral, and while Cassie starts to build her career, Mark loses control of what he began—with consequences that ensnare them in a matter of national security.
Told through the perspectives of Mark, Cassie, and Mark’s mother, Julia, a child of the '60s whose life is more conventional than she ever imagined, Boomer1 is timely, suspenseful, and in every line alert to the siren song of endless opportunity that beckons and beguiles all of us.
What to say about Boomer1? The story focuses on the apparent generational divide between baby boomers and millennials. Mark has tried to make it as an academic and journalist in New York, but he’s ended up back in his parents’ basement in the Midwest. He reinvents himself as a raging millennial, posting video diatribes about how it’s time for baby boomers to cede their place to millennials, ending each diatribe with “boom boom”. Meanwhile, Mark’s ex-girlfriend Cassie is climbing the ranks of a new media company and his mother is becoming an inward looking recluse as her hearing deteriorates. I thought Boomer1 was well written and it kept me reading, but I ended up feeling somewhat dissatisfied. It felt like a polemic but I’m not sure what the lesson was. I know I wasn’t necessarily meant to warm up to these characters, but I found myself not caring for them much at all. And the end was odd. Something big happens but we never circle back to get Mark’s perspective. Or maybe that’s the point. Who knows! The + in my rating reflects the good writing. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Daniel Torday’s Boomer1 is a very good novel that focuses on what people do to maintain relationships and to stick to their ideals, even in the face of hypocrisy. Even with some flaws, Torday’s ideas are genuine and hold important questions for the current generation. I enjoyed Boomer1 and will definitely recommend it.
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Daniel Torday for the advanced copy for review.
Full review can be found here: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/04/19/bo...
Please check out all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog
Thank you to St. Martin's Press, the author, and NetGalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for my candid review.
Wow! Tough book to review.
I actually hated the book at first because it was an unadulterated attack on Baby Boomers and all that they have accomplished. And a call to arms for them to all retire, so that Millenials can take the good jobs.
At that point in the book---I wanted to rip through the pages and smack the sh%& out of the characters for being whiney babies and not understanding that nothing was handed to the Baby Boomers---we worked hard for it.
But then it started to point out some of the crazy social, technological, and societal things that the Millenials are doing. And so it became a reflection on the struggles from both generations. And the practical decisions that were made by some of the most idealistic and artistic members of each generation.
It pointed out the scope and the influence that instant information technology can have---both for good and for very,very bad. One line resonated with me...."Technology was addictive when it was working, but when technology wasn't working, it was more addictive than heroin."
So, it would be a great book for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials all to read. It actually became very thought-provoking when the whole story unfolded.
I would give this book high marks. Read it--it will make you think about society's evolution.
As a proud Boomer who intends to work ‘til I drop, Boomer1 was—well, a mite unsettling. As it is intended to be. Putting myself in the head of a disgruntled millennial who blames the Baby Boomers for the poor job market took some getting used to. But once I bought into the concept, I thought the book was brilliant.
It’s narrated from three perspectives—Mark Brumfeld, whose life isn’t turning out the way he thought it would, his love interest Cassie, a bluegrass bassist who discovers a hidden talent for editing native content in social media, and Mark’s mother Julia, a one-time (dare we say?) hippie who is now a suburban wife and mother. Mark—aka Isaac Abramson aka Boomer1—moves into his mom’s basement and creates a series of videos advocating the forceful retirement of boomers, ending with: “Resist much, obey little. Propaganda by the deed. Boom boom.”
There is true hilarity here in the targeting of boomer icons (Oprah, anyone?) But Daniel Torday does not let his narrative dissolve into slapstick. Despite the absurd plot, these are believable characters who could easily be perceived as existing in the real world. The emotions and milieu of the today—seeking a scapegoat for one’s own failings, getting lost in the Internet culture, having one foot firmly planted in what is expected of us and the other wavering into unexplored ground of what we really want to do—all this is mined here. Millennial cynicism and ennui clashes with boomer self-righteousness.
And it’s all great fun. Except when it isn’t. There is a yearning in these put-upon characters and, if there is not generational domestic terrorism, there is at least generational envy and resentment. The book has a lot to say and it says it well. Don’t expect a fast read but do expect an enlightening one. Boom boom.
I had trouble getting into this book but once in, I really enjoyed it. As one of the Baby Boomer generation, I tired of the "blame-game" that Mark raged about. We grew up with a work ethic and deserved the jobs we got based on merit. We retire when we are able to (fortunately I am)! So I had to re-adjust my thinking a little to see through his eyes. I have children his age so I understand the frustration of being over-educated and unable to find suitable employment. I also understand the frustration of not knowing whether Social Security will be around. We worry about that too. I did like the three different perspectives--from Mark, Cassie, and Mark's mother Julia. There are important concepts addressed by Torday and we would be wise to take heed as the digital age moves at the speed of light. Things we once took for granted may not be there in the future. This is a relevant and poignant read!
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!