Do You Know Your Audience? Pt. 8

Sorry sci-fi fans. I know that I promised to talk about the world of science fiction today, but there’s a new-ish genre that piqued my interest. That and I really wanted an excuse to use a clip from Bunheads. So instead of science fiction, I’m going to talk about:

Boomer Lit

Yes, boomer lit. Never heard of it? You will soon. Boomer lit is literature for the baby boomer generation (that is, anyone born from 1946-1964). Some people in the publishing industry are even calling it the next big thing in literature and why not? Baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 people per day. That’s 10,000 people who need a new hobby and now have all the time in the world to read. Haven’t you noticed the string of movies that feature older couples and their issues? That’s, essentially, movies for the baby boomer generation and those movies have done fairly well at the box office for not being filled with action and adventure.

[pro-player]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkoNgZbdlGI[/pro-player]

The above clip is a compilation of scenes from the television series Bunheads which is based off a new adult novel. It also contains actual clips from the movie Hope Springs. And yes, I agree that the movie is highly under-rated and that it should’ve won all the awards. Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep are just astounding.

So what is boomer lit exactly? Some people dub it as the chick lit for senior citizens. But I think it’s much more than that. For one, chick lit is usually rather sweet and bubbly and lighthearted. Boomer lit is so much more. It dives into the complexities of a generation that was all about sexual freedom, peace and harmony, women’s rights, and war. Now that they’re older, they’re dealing with failed marriages and broken dreams. The younger end of that generation might even be entering a mid-life crisis. The novels can be light in tone or you can go as dark as you need to take it.

Publishing Perspectives said this about boomer lit:

If you have a difficult time imagining what “Baby Boomer Lit” is, think of it as a corollary to young adult literature. It is similar to YA lit in its structure and aims. YA lit was started in the 1970s, sustained by the wave of Boomer readers in their teens, interested in characters with whom they could identify. The rest is history: YA lit became an enormous success and remains one of the strongest and fastest growing categories today.

Just as YA lit focuses on the first transition to adulthood, Boomer Lit is about the next big transition. Now that the youngest Boomer is 49 and the oldest is 67, they once again want to read books that will show them how to address the “Third Act” of their lives. And they want books featuring mature characters that reflect themselves.

If you want to write boomer lit, you need to make sure you keep it rather contemporary. You can’t write about a teenager living in the 1960s because that’s not boomer lit. That’s still YA lit (historical YA lit, to be more specific). You need to take the chance and write about characters in their 50s and 60s and think about the issues they face right now.

Kim Green, author of Paging Aphrodite and Live A Little says this in an article at Writer’s Digest:

“What I felt I was tapping into with Raquel is something I see in boomer women—this dissatisfaction and unhappiness because they didn’t have a lot of choices about where their lives were going to lead,” Green says. “My primary focus was to deal with the frustration of a woman of Raquel’s generation, a woman who felt she had lost her dream in part because she had a family. This is the classic case with boomers—they wanted it all but couldn’t get it and have ended up feeling as if they didn’t do anything very well.”

I think younger people, like me, often forget or don’t think about the issues that the baby boomer generation face. While we’re too busy whining that some guy will never be with us, there are women a couple generations older that would kill to be in our shoes and to have the chance to re-think those moments. Was getting the guy really worth it and not losing the dream? Is there ever a moment of regret?

I haven’t read any boomer lit, but I’d like to. So if you have any recommendations of books (or movies!) leave them in the comments below.

Catch up on the latest “Audience” series and see what’s upcoming!

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  1. Pingback: Do You Know Your Audience? Pt. 1

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