I have looked for good books about middle-age, but 95% of them seem to be frothy upgrades of young adulthood. At our age, we’re in new territory. We need to know about things like:
- Are you braver now or more frightened?
- How are you different from when you were younger, and is that a good or a bad thing?
- What would you still like to learn?
- What ass-kicking talent or strength have you finally mastered?
- Is there anything you’ve given up on achieving? What made you decide that, and are you okay with it?
- Have you discovered anything about your life that you were doing wrong for, oh, say the last 30 years, and now that you know, you’ve decided to change it?
Because I’m hungry for Boomer Lit or Midlife Lit (fiction), I put together a pageful of recommendations here. Just go to Photos>Albums>Midlife Fiction. I don’t include books that simply have older characters in them, who act like everybody else (or worse, act like they’re trying to be young again.) I include them if the older characters illuminate the experience of aging. Ditto I do not include books that are almost entirely flashbacks to the first “coming of age” or young adult phase. I want the second coming-of-age. The older adult phase.
I also found a blog post by a writer named Latham Shinder, and he put it into words for me:
“Some critics have called the genre chick lit for the senior crowd….But boomer lit doesn’t have to be about…getting the guy, makeovers, (or) suburban shopping sprees…
“In other words, Boomer lit doesn’t have to be shallow. The best boomer lit is about the human condition-human emotions, values and beliefs. It’s about the search for meaning. The same search for meaning that literary fiction has been struggling with for decades…
“If you could simplify any great boomer lit novel to a single theme or controlling idea, it’s this: self assessment. Boomer lit is the mature version of the coming of age novel. It’s about taking a good hard look at your life, sifting through the hay stack of forty years of “issues” and “opportunities” (Boomer code words for screw-ups and bigger screw ups), and deciding where to go from here.”
Lynne again. That last paragraph? That’s what my novel, Dakota Blues, is about. It’s a coming-of-age novel about a woman who turns fifty and realizes she’s been sleepwalking. Now that she knows, what’s she going to do about it? That’s the story. I loved writing it, and I think you’ll enjoy reading it.