Book Trailer The Noble Train

Monday, September 20, 2010

The New Beat Generation of the Great Recession

I wrote Rocket Man two years ago and thought that by the time it came out the recession would be over. But I wrote the novel thinking someone should come to grips with his awful calamity grinding up the middle class. Little did I know we would still be in the belly of the beast at the time of publication. The Great Recession is grinding on and on and steadily wearing away the thin fabric of our middle class and decimating a whole group of workers that might never return to the work force.

Of course I am talking about the over fifty crowd who went into this recession as young men and women and have come out old and used up. F. Scott Fitzgerald said his father had lost his job when he was a boy and came home an old man "he had lost his immaculate sense of purpose and was a failure for the rest of his days." This eloquent line sums up more than anything what is happening to the people who went into this recession very much engaged in life and are coming out in their slippers and pajamas, a rootless people with literally no where to go.

In Rocket Man I paint a picture of a man on the brink of disaster. He is barely hanging on to his house, his marriage, his life. I accelerated his disaster into one week but now when you read the paper, specifically the New York Times, there is an article speculating that the people who have become unemployed at fifty may never enter the work force again. Even my protagonist who hits bottom in every sense of the word, doesn't recognize the possibility he will never work again. This is really the bleakest aspect of the Great Recession yet.

For the unemployed it is the perpetual thudding reality of not being part of the whole anymore. The beat generation of the forties played around with this idea, Kerouac and the others stating they were perpetually beat from the stress they labored under during the war years and before that the Great Depression. Maybe we now have a new Beat Generation. It may well be the oldest one yet.

William Hazelgrove's Rocket Man is due out in the fall

Books by William Hazelgrove