Satire fails to fire

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN
Last updated 15:03 27/08/2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn't My Fault) (And I'll Never Do It Again)
By P J O'Rourke (Grove Press UK, RRP $37)

Author P J O'Rourke has a knack for making hilarious observations on life, as shown by his earlier bestsellers, so I was expecting big things from his latest offering.

Unfortunately, I was just a wee bit disappointed.

Don't get we wrong, The Baby Boom is still a pretty decent read, it just doesn't live up to the standard of the earlier O'Rourke books that I have read.

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My introduction to his work came many years ago when I read Modern Manners somewhere way back in the 1980s. This irreverent guide was tagged a rule book for living in a world without rules and merrily thumbed its proverbial nose at anything etiquette related in a way that was equal parts fun and churlish.

O'Rourke's clever, witty writing had me hooked, and memories of reading that book still manage to raise a smile after all this time.

I haven't read everything he has has written, but I really enjoyed Holidays In Hell, about his time as a foreign correspondent surviving in areas of conflict.

O'Rourke's sharp political satire and his take on economics, with books such as Parliament of Whores, Eat the Rich and Don't Vote, perfectly showcased his witty but insightful writing and set me up to expect that this look at baby boomers and all they stand for - written by one of their own - would be a hoot.

Maybe I'm just the wrong age group, being a couple of years shy of actually being a boomer myself.

Or maybe it is simply that the author is just a little too close to the subject matter so doesn't take the mickey quite as much as he could have, instead proclaiming that baby boomers are in fact the greatest generation in history.

Sure, that statement is a bit of a satirical poke at his generation but the book just lacks that beautifully sharp observational humour that I've come to expect from O'Rourke.

Good, but not great.

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