Ted Rall's 'Revenge of the Latchkey Kids: An Illustrated Guide to Surviving the 90s and Beyond' is, I think, the only book I've seen by a living author where the introduction is less than flattering. Jules Feiffer points out that Ted Rall seems to've never gotten over his father's leaving the family, and he hasn't. Good god, no. No publisher in their right mind should have accepted 216 pages of something Ted Rall should've...accepted for himself at some point in early adolescence.
If you enjoy Rall's cartoons -- which I do, very much -- avoid this like the plague, lest you end up with a nagging distrust and dislike of the poor boy. The points he tries to make are so laboured as to be useless; the primary lesson here is to get good at something (like political cartooning) so that you have a ready-made audience, which you can then turn to for a sort of large-scale, anonymous and silent psychiatrist.
The anti-Gen-X tirades are so cliched (tattoos and piercings!!) and the doomsayings (we could all end up permanently in front of our computer screens) so hackneyed they may as well be clipped directly from the pages of 'Time' magazine circa 1992. The depressing thing in the book is not the generation in question but the one opportunist writing drivel about it.
I am starting to sound as bitter as Rall himself. A summary:
Ted Rall was very very smart as a small boy. He still is. His father left him. His mother is French. She did her best. Politicians are dumb. Current economic systems are only beneficial for the wealthy. Your parents were lousy. Your peer group is lousy.
He includes *his own lengthy resume* in this morass of self-confession. Skip over it, along with the rest of the text (since you've already read the salient points here) -- somehow, his humour doesn't translate to print; at best it scans like frat-style Letterman humour: 'Lawyers to watch out for, The warning signs...Says "I don't want to take your money".' Oh, dear. If you get this as a gift, take it back to the store and plead with them to exchange it for 'The Worst Thing I've Ever Done' -- only accept his 'My War With Brian' if desperate; it's similar in its can't-get-over-childhood-agonies/generally bilious outlook. (He is still funny, and his regular comic is unfailingly on target. I feel bad here, but the man should stay away from the computer and stay at his drawing board.)
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K. Mennie (kmennie)
Oct 27, 2010
Nov 23, 2010 02:45 PM UTC
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