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The Boomer [Hardcover]

Marty Asher
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 9 2000
Meet the boomer.

He's smart, successful, well-adjusted, and on the brink of total despair.

Sound like anyone you know?

boom-er (bü'mer), n. 1: a person or thing that booms. 2: a person who settles in area or towns that are booming. 3: informal: BABY BOOMER

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Tracing the life of his protagonist, identified as "the boomer," from birth to death in childlike, "see Spot run" prose, Vintage Books editor-in-chief Asher delivers a spare outline of one man's life, which nevertheless manages to capture many boomer-generation milestones and anxieties with winning pathos. Divided into 100 paragraph-long chapters, the book is illustrated with clever clip art and '50s-style graphics that counterpoint the events experienced by the unnamed boomer. The facile childhood chapters describe school, vacation, homelife and even the boy's favorite lunch. But soon, with adolescence, the boomer's world becomes more complicated, and the rudimentary prose takes on a more satiric note. Leaving his unhappy family for college, the boomer enjoys sex, drugs and independence. Then simple pleasures soon give way to the responsibilities of adult life: "The boomer graduated with honors. He got a good job in a large company. He rented a small walk-up apartment. A woman gave him a cat." The boomer eventually marries this woman, and when she has a son, he decides to love his wife. The family accumulates material goods, and acquires a soon to be beloved dog, as the boomer gets steadily promoted at his job. The boomer's son goes to college and tells his father that he's gay, the dog dies, the boomer enters a serious depression and gets into a car accident. Life is not quite the same after that, and the confused boomer moves in with another woman during his midlife crisis. The narrative maintains its deadpan tone throughout, summarily stylizing the character's life into flat, expository pantomime, but the implications are unmistakable. The boomer emerges as a sympathetic character who lived through '50s conformism, late-'60s rebellion, '70s aimlessness, '80s consumerism and beyond, and his death has full emotional impact. Asher's protagonist is sure to remind America's largest demographic of someone they know very well. Illus. from the CSA Archives, augmented by Chip Kidd. QPB alternate. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The editor-in-chief of Vintage Books takes on the baby boomers as they drift to the far reaches of middle age.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Melancholy Tale March 5 2004
The Boomer is the story of the everyman, living an ordinary (if empty) American life. In 101 concise Zen-like paragraphs, punctuated with kitschy illustrations, Marty Asher forces us to think about the hardest of all questions: namely, what makes life worth living? That the author is able to accomplish this with such brevity suggests that this book is less a novel, and more a work of art, which I highly recommend.
Several other reviewers have called this book depressing; I respectfully disagree. A good story is like a mirror, and what you read into it may simply be a reflection. The moral of this story, if there is one, may be to stop and smell the roses... or, in the more poignant words of the author, to learn to love in an easy, natural way. Unlike the boomer, it's not too late for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stick your head in an oven after reading it Oct. 15 2002
A good book but you'll feel like sticking your head in an oven after reading it. I found it looking for all the books in my local library in the category "Experimental Fiction." It has a drawing on almost every page to accompany the text. It is the pessimistic story of a boomer's life from birth to death, as the protagonist struggles through life's stages in a fruitless pursuit of happiness. Its kind of cynical and reminds me of the thinking of my father's generation (survivors of the Depression and veterans of World War II). Its a small format with few pages and is a very quick read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A tiny vortex Sept. 26 2000
I picked this up at the library, curious not because I'm a boomer but because my father is, and read it on the subway ride home. No book, no film, no artifice has ever left me feeling as disconsolate and crushed as The Boomer. The lesson, as I interpreted it, is this: Prolonged happiness is impossible, since success is empty, love fails you, and you can't outrun your growing capacity for pleasure and acquisition. I think cars are the only things in this book that are given names.
I can't articulate a rating for The Boomer. Three stars is an arbitrary selection. It affected me -- it wounded my interior. I see my father in it, and I know that he would see himself, and yet he has never cautioned me (as the book does not caution) against absorbing the disconnective malaise of his life. Sending him this book would be an act of terrorism.
On the subway ride home: how easy it was to read something so hard.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Book for All of Us June 22 2000
Marty Asher has produced a compelling book of 101 paragraph-length chapters which chronicles the life of what we assume to be a typical man of his times - a Boomer. Each chapter is accompanied by a sort of free association illustration which could have been ripped from the pages of any popular magazine in the 1950s. The result is a compelling piece of literature that says in a few words what it has taken John Irving a lifetime to write.
The book is really about all of us, however. And how we always have been. In the end Asher's Boomer, while the details of his life are different, reminds one of Hawthorne's wayward Puritans, Sloan Wilson's "Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" and today's Microserfs. Asher pulls it off in an amazing economy of words, almost conversationally, as if someone asked, "What was your father like?"
Buy this book, read it and circulate it among your friends. You'll think about it and carry it around in your mind a few days and hopefully it will sink in.
And it IS worth buying for the pictures!
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5.0 out of 5 stars the boomer and marty asher the man June 21 2000
As member of Generation Y (maybe, my apathetic generation is more aptly termed Generation Why?), I might not seem like the target customer for a book about baby boomers. Indeed, I am not. I did, however, find the book immensely enjoyable. Mr. Asher, with his vignettes captured my father's quintessence and influenced my own writing. I am an aspiring novelist and his unique brevity has helped me to think outside the constraints of the normal novel. For that, I thank him.
After I read his book clandestinely in the back of a bookstore, he came to Powell's Books in Portland, OR. I went to the reading to meet the man. He took the time to talk to me after the reading and when I mentioned jokingly that I would love to buy his book, but that I was too poor(which is completely true- I'm a starving student), he BOUGHT ME THE BOOK! Yes, it is true, the man took money from his own pocket so that I, a complete stranger, could have his book. If that doesn't say something about the man's character, I'm not sure what could.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Short and Interesting June 10 2000
By A Customer
I saw this book in Tower Records and Books and picked it up. It was so small that it struck me as interesting. Well, I read it in about 10 minutes in the book section. I was entertained but I really don't know who would buy this except if you want to study the illustrations. This is like one of those magazines like the Star or Enquirer that you can read without buying it as you wait in the check-out line.
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