I got a text from a friend recently: "Too sick to read, so I've been hate-watching Girls, which is the absolute worst. I so hate Millennials right now." Keep in mind this came from a 30-year-old who fits quite tidily into the Millennial category, whereas my age lands me squarely in Generation X, the "slacker generation."
But I'd just finished reading Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte. I could relate to hating Millennials.
Tulathimutte's debut novel takes place in San Francisco in 2007. Ten years later, reading the novel already feels like getting a glimpse of the distant past, a bit of time-traveling into a city about to be savaged by tech wealth. Tulathimutte, a graduate of Stanford and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, started writing Private Citizens almost a decade ago, a time described as "too recent for retro and too distant for novelty, that everything considered fashionable then tends to give off a stench of expired cool -- MySpace, American Apparel, Burning Man, feather earrings."
Cory, Henrik, Will, and Linda are four young college graduates in their mid-twenties stumbling through post-graduation lives in San Francisco. Will is a wealthy internet-porn addict with a major complex about his male Asianness. He is dating Vanya, a beautiful woman who became paraplegic after an accident on a beauty contest stage, and who aspires to be an Oprah-like internet guru for young, disabled women. Cory works at Socialize, a startup that organizes fundraising events for vaguely noble-sounding nonprofits. Henrik is a failed researcher with deep mental health issues. And Linda, well, she's someone who might have been easily described as a "hot mess" back in the mid-aughts. She can't maintain relationships, aspires to be a writer without actually writing, and stumbles through San Francisco in a haze of bad relationships, half-friendships, and bad drugs.