Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture - Part 1, Chapters 8, 9,10 and 11 Summary & Analysis

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Part 1, Chapters 8, 9,10 and 11 Summary

"Shopping is not Creating"

This chapter consists almost entirely of a story told by Claire as narrated by Andy, a story set on Texlahoma, "an asteroid orbiting the earth" that rocket scientists always forget about and which life is permanently lived in the style of 1974 (see "Objects/Places - Texlahoma"). Claire's story is of a space traveler named Buck, who contracts a strange space disease and is forced to stay in with the Monroe family until he recovers. He romances each of the materialistic Monroe daughters in turn, trying to convince them to help him treat himself with a cure that might potentially end their lives. Only the love of the less materialistic, artistically creative third daughter is strong enough to lead her to help him, and help him she does. Meanwhile, the other two Monroe sisters comment on how foolish she was - but that they feel jealous all the same.

"Re Con Struct"

After commenting briefly that he and Claire never fell in love, "even though [they] both tried hard," Andy comments that he never fell in love and that he doesn't want to spend life alone, illustrating his point by telling a story about Edward (a story he says he wouldn't even tell Dag and Claire). As described by Andy, Edward is a self-consciously clever young man whose proper life alone becomes alcoholic, living behind a permanently closed door with only the company of a friendly dog. One day, however, the dog's friendliness becomes rabid and insane, and Edward becomes trapped - with no way out, no alcohol, and no friends. He fights his way past the dog, only to realize that ten years have passed and the world has become busier, more relationship oriented, and unafraid. Edward realizes (according to Andy) that he has no reason to be afraid either, and vows to himself to build "a silver tower [which] would stand as a beacon to all voyagers who, like himself, arrived in the city late in life."

"Enter Hyperspace"

After a brief encounter with some lost Japanese tourists (see "Quotes," p. 54), Dag and Claire urge Andy to tell them a story. He tells them the real story of how HE came to be in Palm Springs. He describes how, while working at a Japanese company with other frustrated young people. "I felt," he writes, "[like] I was being excommunicated from the shin jin rui - that's what the Japanese newspapers call people like those kids in their twenties at the office - new human beings...we have the same group over here and it's just as large, but it doesn't have a name - an X generation - purposefully hiding itself." He then narrates an embarrassing encounter with the boss in his office (which Andy describes as "hyper-space") made him recall a phrase by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. That phrase, Andy writes, described how "we are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die." He realizes that the boss was trying to show him HIS letter, and comments that he came to Palm Springs "to try to read the letter inside [him]".

"December 31, 1999"

This chapter begins with Andy's commentary on how Dag and Claire never fell in love either, and how the three of them share a wonderful platonic friendship. Dag then begins the latest in what Andy describes as a series of end-of-the-world stories, this one beginning with Dag's suggestion that "you" imagine "you've" had a fight with "your" best friend, and that while you're in a grocery store buying supplies for a party that night, some kind of nuclear attack takes place. However, in the moment before you're incinerated, he adds, your best friend comes in, kisses you on the mouth, and says "I've always wanted to do that." And then the heat of the nuclear explosion comes, incinerating you - "kind of scary, kind of sexy, and tainted by regret. A lot like life, wouldn't you say?"

Part 1, Chapters 8, 9,10 and 11 Analysis

There are several noteworthy elements in this closing section to Part 1. The first is the different ways in which the three central characters tell their stories, and what is revealed about those characters as a result.

Throughout the narrative, the characters' stories are often thinly disguised revelations of personal truth and/or experience. This section contains the end points of what might be described as the full continuum of disguise. On one end are Claire's story about Texlahoma and Andy's story about Edward, both of which can be, and are perhaps meant to be, interpreted as explanations / explorations of personal truths the characters are unable / unwilling to reveal (consider here the possible importance of Edward's being an alcoholic - see Chapters 1, 2 and 3 Summary/Analysis). On the other end of the continuum is Andy's story about his encounter with his boss, which isn't disguised at all. It's important to note here that Andy functions at both ends of the spectrum, simultaneously hiding and revealing himself. It's possible to see this as a foreshadowing of where he (and Claire) gets to at the end of the book - prepared, at least to some degree, to live a more open, self-truthful life without stories. Meanwhile, the next section (specifically Chapter 12) contains an example of a story in the middle of the continuum, Dag's "Otis" story in Chapter 12, which is obviously a very personal narrative but which Dag nevertheless disguises (albeit transparently) because, it seems, he is completely unable to face not only his own truth but revealing that truth to others.

Another important element here is the first, and very telling, reference to the X-Generation (see "Topics for Discussion - When Andy describes ..."). Also, the reference to Rainer Maria Rilke can be seen as quite significant. Rilke compiled a very famous book ("Letters to a Young Poet") in which he advises an aspiring artist to dig deep into his personal truth for that which will make his art special. The implication of the reference is that Andy and his friends need to do the same - dig into their personal truths in order to make their LIVES special. Finally, both the heading of Chapter 11 ("December 31, 1999") and its core content (Dag's story about the nuclear war-triggered kiss) are important pieces of foreshadowing for events that take place later in the book - New Year's Eve, December 31, 1999 (Chapter 29). These events include a kiss which takes place in metaphorically similar circumstances to the kiss here, and the nuclear explosion Andy believes he sees shortly afterwards. For further consideration of the importance of this particular date, see "Style - Setting."

This section contains 1,123 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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