Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

My Generation

April 23, 1972 (OK, I had to look up the date) was a typical Sunday, with the Times spread out on our Plimpton kitchen table. The magazine's cover story immediately caught our eye. There was Joyce Maynard, a Yale freshman, writing about growing up among the same events we did.

My immediate thought was, "I could have written this!" Probably any number of college students thought the same thing. But we didn't write it. She did. The article soon became a book, and Maynard became the de facto spokesperson for our generation.

I followed her career. I even was in the audience when she did a TV talk show at a Boston department store while I was in grad school (the other guest was actress Elizabeth Ashley). We had similar childhoods (including Canadian-Jewish parents - though her father was not Jewish and my mother was not Canadian), but our life experiences differed drastically after that.

Her writing caught the attention of J.D. Salinger, and she dropped everything to be with him; this painful story is detailed in "At Home in the World." She married, had 3 kids, divorced, moved to California, and wrote about it all. Some accused her of narcissism, but you write about what you know.

I had read some of her fiction - "Baby Love" about young mothers in New Hampshire which I found depressing and confusing (which character is which again?), and "To Die For" which was made into one of my favorite movies.

Last time I was at the library, I got "The Usual Rules," Maynard's novel about a 13-year-old girl who loses her mother on 9/11. It's also a novel about being a 13-year-old girl, family, and loss. Some of the situations are contrived (her new friend, homeless skateboarder Todd, finds his long-lost brother, only to lose him for good in a snowboarding accident!), but it's mostly interesting and absorbing.
[Update: I sent the link for this entry to Joyce Maynard, who told me this plot point has been changed for the paperback, since it upset younger readers. Nice to know, and nice to hear back from her.]

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