Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Stench of Adulthood

A friend of mine just turned 21 and went out the other night to the dive bar I usually go to. I gave him some shit about being an adult now, and he informed me that adulthood smells like cigarette smoke, stale beer, and general grossness. What a way to talk about my home away from home! Although it is true that when you walk by the side door of said dive bar, there is in fact a characteristic odor. I wouldn't say it's gross...I mean, I've smelled a lot worse.

So my great fortune cookie of wisdom is: one gets used to the stench of adulthood.

In related stories: we've had a pointless ongoing local controversy, and for one fleeting second, I had thought I was living in a community where logic was going to triumph, just once. I swore my last blog on the subject would be my last word on the subject, so all I'll say is, well, they showed me! Just a practical joke. It's a small-minded small town after all.

Then I've pretty much stopped watching tv altogether (but not my DVD player, which I couldn't live without, and that's hardly even hyperbole), but the result is, I am now spouting the same type of sarcastic comments at the computer screen. Like today I just glanced at the reviews on Slate, and there was one on Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love, which has been very popular, so I clicked on it out of idle curiosity.

Where I discovered that the article was written by Katie Roiphe and called "Should you read the best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love?" My snap thought: should you pay attention to Katie Roiphe's opinions? Now, some people say that bloggers are a bad influence on society (yes, somewhere there's a theorist drawing crazy conclusions about anything people do). I'm thinking offhand about an upcoming book called The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture, by Andrew Keen. Because what could be worse than my sitting here writing about movies and 18th-century novels? (Yes, my critique of A Simple Story should be up soon). I guess I ought to be watching tv like a good girl.

But I digress. I was going to say, I'm as qualified to be a cultural critic as Katie Roiphe is. If there'd been better financial aid prospects, maybe I'd have gone to Harvard. And even that wouldn't have made my mom a "celebrated writer and critic," as Publisher's Weekly calls her, which I think might have made it easier for me to start getting books published in my early 20s.

Believe me, I certainly have my moments of cynicism, but I'm not bitter about this. It's far better for a cultural critic to remain objective and outside the system of power. Like, I buy my own books, or have to acquire them by other means. Nobody sends me review copies for free. I'm glad that I'm a self-made woman. And it's a lot easier for me to find a forum in a blog than it is to compete with all those Harvardites with wealthy parents and connections at The New Yorker. So, I think I'll ask the opinion of someone I see bringing that book back to the library.

Smells like middle-aged spirit!

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