Growing up is terrifying. No one told me when I was a wee young thing that once I hit 21, gone would be the days of sleeping past noon, purchasing frivolous items at the local drugstore (why yes, I do need the PedEgg for at-home pedicures), and 300 random cable channels that include broadcasts of football games from Argentina. No, now as an adult, we’re expected to do things like pay for those cable stations, and restrain ourselves from buying frivolous purchases such as a FakeTV. So on many levels, I totally get it. I get why you want to say mid-way through your twenties, “You know what? This isn’t what I want.” And in order to regroup and refocus, well, what better place to show up than on your mother’s doorstep?
At Algonquin, we’ve been reading about this phenomenon of kids returning home to live with their folks. (Check out one of our favorite spring titles, Kris D’Agostino’s hilariously dark novel, The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac.) While Kris certainly does not live at home, he does live in Brooklyn, where he will be reading with author Leigh Stein at powerHouse Arena, April 24th, 7:00pm.
We couldn’t send Kris off to do a joint reading without first reading Leigh’s book ourselves, and to be frank, we devoured her novel The Fallback Plan. Stein is a former New Yorker staffer and fellow Brooklynite. Her novel follows her protagonist Esther, a recent Northwestern drama major, who returns home to move into her parents’ guest room in order to figure out her next step.
And isn’t that the case with Generation Y? I look around at all my brilliant, talented friends and think, “Well, of course our parents told us to pursue our dreams of becoming a professional flautist/hot air balloon operator/bee keeper! The world is our oyster!” However, not all dreams are obtainable immediately. Esther’s malaise and frustration with her lack of a career (and worse yet, lack of plans) are dead-on as she spends her days drifting through cheap wine, terrible hookups, and a babysitting job that only leads to more trouble.
Stein keeps Esther refreshingly humane with her growing attachment to the child she’s watching over. Throughout her babysitting days, we never feel annoyed by her, but instead sympathize with her confusion and apprehension as a recent college grad. While our parents told us to reach for the stars, they never told us just how long it would take to grab them, and that overwhelming confusion/frustration is what readers can find in both Stein and D’Agostino’s beautiful novels.
And hey, if someone’s been crashing on your couch for a tad too long, may we suggest subtly leaving these books on their pillow?
Check out Kris D’Agostino and Leigh Stein as they read together on April 24th at powerHouse Arena, located on 37 Main Street in Brooklyn (7:00pm!)