The mere fact that someone is asking whether or not Emily Gould is the voice of her generation makes me vomit in my mouth a bit. Of course, all of this is related to the publication of the ex-Gawker writer’s collection of essays And the Heart Says Whatever.
And the Heart Says Whatever is, undeniably, an account of what it’s like to be a twentysomething media type in New York. Its pages are full of bad, short-lived service jobs, college writing workshops, relationship angst, casual sex, and the kind of everyone-who’s-anyone parties that seem exciting at first but slowly begin to blur together and feel like work. We certainly recognize ourselves and many of our peers (not to mention the protagonists of certain “mumblecore” films) in Emily, her friends, and her co-workers. But, as far as we’re concerned, to earn the “voice of a generation” mantle, you have to do more than simply describe your own life in a way that happens to remind other people your age of theirs. To really represent post-collegiate America in the 21st century, you have to give some insight into what makes us the way we are, where we’re heading, and why (or whether) it all matters. Gould does none of this.
The problem with asking this question is the echo chamber of NYC media. Sure, Gould’s memoir-cum-collection of essays reminds other NYC media people of their lives and of course that causes them to go, d’uh, she’s captured life for a generation of people! But the life of a twentysomething NYC media person is vastly different than the lives of, well, just about every other twentysomething.
And truthfully, Judy Berman, writing for Flavorwire, goes on to absolutely eviscerate Gould’s book. So kudos to her, but it’s still unfortunate to even propose a question like that.