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The continuing attack on irony

An unseen woman singing and bending down with the microphone. The background is red lights with shadows, and the words "Alanis", "Morissette" and "Ironic" are written in white cursive letters at the bottom half of the image.

Irony has been out of fashion in some quarters since 9/11/2001.  Later in that awful September, TIME published an essay by Roger Rosenblatt that began, "The one good thing that could come from this horror: it could spell the end of the age of irony."

Yet irony has hung in there, as have critiques thereof. Christy Wampole has written the latest such attack, THE OTHER SERIOUS.

She titles it that because in her view the problem with her contemporaries -- me and you, dear reader -- is not just that we over-use irony as a literary device but that irony is the default mode we adopt when we are being "serious." She wants a "recalibration" of what it means to be serious.

She also, like so many writers before her, doesn't quite understand what the kids today are up to. "As a Gen-Xer, I wonder how it must be to grow up in this environment today. What does it feel like to be in high school, for example, where your life is constantly available for comment online?...Can you ever say how you really feel, using your own name?"

The reviews satisfy my curiosity about this. There will be a lot of rain on a lot of wedding days before I read this book.

By the way, as to this infamous Alanis Morissette lyrics: yes the "rain on your wedding day" thing is a misfire. Something isn't ironic just because it is inconvenient. But ... I love the phrase "who would've thought? it figgers." The conjunction of those two reactions to the same event is irony.


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