Are You Ready For Boomer Lit?

I’ve been reluctant to admit this in the past, but I am a Baby Boomer. Yes, I was born at the bitter end of the post-WWII American baby boom. Some have called my cohorts and I the world’s greatest gift to the Gross National Product, but some have tagged us as the most overindulged and narcissistic generation in the country’s history. (This from a country responsible for Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.)

I can now talk about it in my outside voice, because with the urging of author Claude Nougat, a new genre of literature is born! Before this, books with older characters in them were just called “books with older characters in them.” But thanks to the creative taxonomy of the current publishing scene that created the Young Adult and New Adult novels, we now have Baby Boomer novels. Claude writes in her blog, “Just as YA is concerned with coming of age issues, BB novels address ‘coming of old age.’” She points to examples of two books made into popular films: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach and Louis Begley’s series, About Schmidt. These two books feature characters searching for meaning after their “usefulness” in the community has passed, and they show that what has been tagged as “our golden years” (for which now surely the Boomers will craft a more positive and vigorous name) can be the start of a new and dynamic phase of life.

As our own Carol Wyer writes, fifty is fabulous and funny, but it can come with a common set of challenges: the empty nest, retirement, the death of spouses and contemporaries, an incomplete legacy, and a basketful of mental and physical health problems. And now that we’re living and loving longer, what the heck are we going to do with our third act? Read books about sparkly young vampires and wide-eyed twentysomethings navigating the workplace and flitting from bad date to bad date? Well, those are fun, and I love reading stories featuring characters of all ages.

But we’re Boomers, and being such, we want our own heroes. As Judy Blume (Google it, kids) got us girls through those first blushes of adolescence in one of the first YA novels, Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margaret, it could be comforting to see how a menopausal Margaret handles hot flashes and mood swings without killing her husband or adult children.

Baby Boomers make great protagonists. Gray haired, middle-aged women are natural choices for awesome spies and detectives, because to the rest of the world, we are invisible. Romance is sweeter and more precious the second, third, or fourth time around. Thrillers? Well, we can’t run and scale walls like we used to, but with age comes a certain craftiness and cunning that can still make a reader sit on the edge of his or her seat. And the vampire possibilities are endless. Even death can’t separate a couple still madly in love with each other after decades of marriage.

So maybe gravity hasn’t been kind, maybe we need those little blue pills they advertise during the Superbowl, but reading? Yeah. We can do that just fine. If you could just hand me my glasses and make the font on my Kindle a little larger, I’d appreciate that.

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

26 thoughts on “Are You Ready For Boomer Lit?”

  1. My fiction teachers were always saying, “slow the writing down.” That’s a natural for Boomers. We only write during the four intervals in the day between pill-taking time. I’ve already used the word, Boomer, in a title, “Hanzel and Gretyl: A Boomer Fairy Tale.”
    Where are my arthritis pills? I’ve got a lot of typing today.

  2. Thanks, Laurie! The U.S. seems to have forgotten that Boomers are the largest segment of our population. We were once blessed to live in an age of great opportunity, and worked hard to “grow the economy” as we raised our families, saved for retirement, invested in IRAs, and now we cannot earn interest on those savings accounts, thanks to the Fed’s policies. We’re being ignored as though we are of no influence, when in fact we’ve got clout (there is power in numbers.)

    I’m surprised that there hasn’t already been a literary revolution addressing this topic! Yes, let’s write more books for and about our generation, and make BB as popular as YA!

  3. Love this post Laurie (and not just because you kindly made mention of me!). I have noticed an increase in Boomer Lit recently and quite an increase in articles in magazines aimed at that age group too. Perfect for someone like me who writes for the Boomer generation and great for readers who now have a choice of novels and books about people their own age.

  4. I agree that there is a need and a place for this. I don’t necessarily look for older characters or situations older characters might find themselves in, but I do expect greater maturity and insight from them. Otherwise they become boring and often cliche.

  5. I love it when writers break the mold as far as their characters. I do think that the baby boomer generation was perhaps the most guilty of lionizing youth and vilifying age in fiction. But that was then, right. Don’t trust anyone under forty! Peace, love and medication. Tune in, drop out and stay warm for Pete sake.

  6. well, as a baby boomer, I wrote a novel about what it was like being a baby boomer before the baby boomers in the novel became old baby boomers and when a baby boomer could climb walls and run and hunt and shoot. here you go … you see; baby boomers could and can do anything!

  7. Boomer Lit? Love it. You’ve just given my Innerscape story a classification – Boomer Sci-Fi! This has literally made my day. 🙂

    1. So do I! Indeed that is precisely the sort of thing we discuss in Goodreads Group set up to explore boomer lit: it spans all kinds of genres (like YA does) and forms of writing, including short stories and poetry! I’ve even been told that it ought to cover non-fiction and memoirs…

  8. Wonderful post Laurie, and I’m not saying this because you so kindly mention me! Yes, boomer lit has arrived. We boomers made YA the success that it is but that was back then…30 or 40 years ago! Now we’re going to make BB lit an equally big genre in the publishing world, just watch it happen!

    If anyone reading this thread is interested in BB lit, join our Goodreads Group discussing it: Readers and writers welcome! readers, you’ll find over 30 BB titles on the Group’s bookshelf – plenty of good stuff to read! – and writers of BB novels, list your book with us, pitch it, get it included in our monthly read! We are currently reading A HOOK IN THE SKY, the story of one manager who, when he retires, wants to return to his young man’s dream of becoming an artist…with catastrophic results! The idea is to explore boomer lit and better define its boundaries. Do join the debate and give YOUR point of view!

    And again, many thanks Laurie for spreading the word about this new genre! Boomers are all in this together but let’s remember that just like YA lit is not limited to Young Adults (indeed, YA novels are widely read by older people), BB novels provoke interest and are read by younger people. Among the BB authors in our group, at least two are in their thirties!

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