The XX Factor

Dismissing the Male Midlife Crisis

In his review of Robert Cohen’s new book Amateur Barbarians , New York Times book reviewer Will Blythe cleverly comments on the genre of the midlife crisis novel, a category with “a thickening waist.”

This has to be the best couple of sentences in the entirety of yesterday’s book review section:

If American life now offers as many possibilities as a supermarket, then by a certain age a fellow must live with the unsettling notion that for all of his satisfactions, he might have missed something nice on Aisle 12. If the holy grail of so-called chick lit is relationship and marriage, the reward promised the protagonist of the male midlife crisis novel is escape from same, along with belated entry into the dazzling, new country of self-fulfillment. Rabbit, run!

Ultimately the review of Amateur Barbarians is middling (Blythe praises Cohen’s ear for dialogue and says he does not allow the genre to “bully” the characters), but I appreciate the fact that for once, the generic male midlife crisis is lumped in with the too-often reviled formula of chick lit.