Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Quote of the Day (Ross Macdonald, on Parents and Children Out of Sync)

“People are trying so hard to live through their children. And the children keep trying so hard to live up to their parents, or live them down. Everybody's living through or for or against somebody else. It doesn't make too much sense, and it isn't working too well.” — American-Canadian crime fiction writer Ross Macdonald (1916-1983), The Far Side of the Dollar (1965)

Beginning in the late 1950s, watching in horror with writer wife Margaret Millar the psychological difficulties experienced by their only child, Macdonald returned obsessively to the theme of generational conflict in his novels featuring Lew Archer.

Starting off as more or less a cynical private eye in the mold of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Archer grew increasingly introspective and sensitive as he solved cases involving the mutual wounds inflicted on the older and younger generations.

Macdonald’s work can be regarded as a time capsule for the “generation gap” that became a catchphrase of the Sixties. 

But in certain ways, the dilemma he described in the above quote remains, just shifting—and perhaps increasing—because of its move to the digital realm, where traumas are more transparent and exploitable than they were in the early postwar period.

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