Age banding

‘It’s not success we crave then but youth, youth’

-Martin Amis, Success

Do you remember a few months back there was loads of stuff on the books pages about Candace Bushnell, the creator of Sex in the City, doing a series of books about Carrie Bradshaw as a teenager?

I thought it was a bad idea then and I’ve just realised why: there’s an episode of SATC where Bradshaw says ‘When I first moved to New York I used to buy Vogue some days, instead of dinner… it fed me more.’

It struck me that it would be far more interesting for Bushnell to write about Carrie’s twenties, when she’s young and struggling and full of big ideas, and trying to make it in New York – surely the toughest city in the world to make it in.

Childhood and adolescence is dull territory for fiction, although many fiction writers have not realised this. You don’t think so? But consider: most people’s childhood and adolescence is pretty much the same. The first day at school, peer relationships, first drink, first passionate enthusiasms about novels or poetry, loss of virginity. Sure there are people who have very unhappy childhoods, but they are the exception – most of us have pretty much the same experience.

And in fiction, it has been done to fucking death. We have had to put up with novel after novel about growing up in the provincial 1970s – many of them fixated on the overrated bourgeois phenomenon of punk music. Where are all the novels by ex-Hacienda boys?

Adulthood, it seems to me, is much more interesting terrain because once you’re an adult anything can happen – and frequently does. Irvine Welsh said at a reading that he’s mainly interested in writing about people in their twenties, rather than the male-menopausal navel gazing of middle-age fiction. I tend to have the same focus and not just because, unlike Welsh, I am in my twenties. It’s just interesting times – not always good times, but certainly interesting.

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One Response to “Age banding”

  1. Rachel Fox Says:

    Punk overrated? Oh yes…how good to read it in print. For a young man you are very wise…

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