A review of Born in the 1980s from James Hogg at Inpress.
‘As someone born in Orwell’s year of ’84, I’ve always been a bit uneasy about being part of ‘a generation’. Growing up in the nineties and noughties, that whole notion of identity is so much more slippery now compared to those halcyon / bad-hair days of the 60s, 70s and 80s. And whereas that generation produced some of the most enduring popular icons ever, my generation is best represented by those novelty T-shirts with the Thundercats or the Transformers on the front… My Generation? They had The Who, and we got Limp Bizkit; say no more.
It’s this same paradoxical feeling of detachment in a never-better-connected world that cuts through Route’s latest short-story collection. These are tales of the re- and de-location that so often follows hitting your twenties, in an age where everything is derivative, and it’s harder and harder to carve out a place in the world.
Many of the stories deal with relationships in their many forms: with love/hate, with car-crash romances and family break-ups, with the helpless, sometimes hopeless cycles of the dating game. We see the full gamut of emotions from that hinterland between child- and adulthood: from the rose-tinted nostalgia for a simpler life left behind, to the spectre of mortality that haunts even so young an age. Most rewardingly, though, there are plenty of flashes of the self-deprecating, ironic humour that a generation weaned on the Spice Girls and social networking does so well.
Of the 10 stories, my personal favourites would be Sally Jenkinson’s ‘Brown Rice’ – a jaunty yet melancholic Polaroid of single, too-much-too-young parenthood – and Sam Duda’s ‘The Things I Learned About Leah Today’, a diary on office flirtation that slowly, almost imperceptibly skews into something far less sweet and innocent.
A provocative, comforting, challenging anthology.
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