Reviewed by Sara Hodon
Acid Indigestion Eyes: Collected Essays and Musings on Generation X
by Wayne Lockwood
Paperback: 216 pages, December 1, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0983978329
As someone who was in grade school for much of the 1990’s, I wouldn’t exactly call myself an expert on the decade. When I think of the ’90’s, I think of flannel shirts, the Seattle grunge sound, the rise of Starbucks, and two new terms that entered the mainstream vocabulary and applied to those who were coming of age at the time–”Generation X” and ”slacker”.
Wayne Lockwood, writer and cultural observer, was very much a “Gen X-er”. His observations and first-hand experiences provided much of the material for his syndicated newspaper columns, which have been compiled into the essay collection Acid Indigestion Eyes. Lockwood’s essays tackle everything from being too broke to furnish your apartment (that’s what the Dumpster is for) to scrounging together enough cash to buy food (thank goodness for that loose change in the couch cushions) to the introduction of Betty Rubble into the Flintstone vitamin bottles to my personal favorite—music. In one of my favorite essays, “42”, Lockwood comments on the Music Educators National Conference’s list of “42 songs that every American should know”, and takes that idea and runs with it, compiling his own list. Among Lockwood’s selections? John Lennon’s “Imagine”, “Sugar Magnolia” by the Grateful Dead, and “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen (“With a description of the grim reality and failure that is urban renewal, the Boss may have been creating the folk music of the next century”).
Lockwood’s writing is just the right mix of snark, sarcasm, and cynical observational humor to make it universally relatable to readers. He’s the type of writer that points out the common everyday occurrences that happen to all of us, and as you read you find yourself slowly realizing, “Hey…that happened to me, too!” All at once he is able to capture what makes us all more alike than we think at first. Who hasn’t had the horror of realizing that yes, we are becoming our parents? Or that (gasp!) we may have to find a job that has nothing to do with the successful career we always dreamed of or the schooling we paid thousands of dollars for?
Lockwood is not pretentious—he doesn’t try to pass himself off as cooler than anyone else. I get the impression that what you read is what you get—he’s this writer earning a living putting sentences together about the world he’s living in. I would be curious to see what an updated version of the book would be like—maybe an Acid Indigestion Eyes 2000—and compare his experience as a Gen X’er to today’s Gen Y’ers.
A good read to take you back and remember the Slacker Decade. Dig out your favorite flannel shirt and Doc Martens from the back of your closet for some added nostalgia as you read.
About the reviewer: Sara Hodon’s work has appeared in History, Young Money, WritersWeekly.com, and The Valley: Lebanon Valley College’s Magazine, among others. She is also the “Date and Relate” columnist for Online Dating Magazine (www.onlinedatingmagazine.com). Read more about her trials and triumphs in the writing life on her blog, http://adventuresinthewritinglife.blogspot.com