Generation X in Scotland
"Scotland’s Generation X"
"At first, “Scottish Gen X” sounds like some blackly humorous tartan oxymoron, but while Scotland’s Generation X does not display the same characteristics generally associated with their American counterparts, they nonetheless constitute a more or less definable group. Scots born between 1961 and 1981 came of age between the failed 1979 referendum on devolution and the successful 1997 one—a period in which Scottish fiction and film flourished. A quarter century in the making, Alasdair’s Gray’s Lanark (1981) signaled the start of this second Scottish Renaissance. It constituted a postmodern call to imagine Scotland apart from stereotypes and apart from Britishness too so that the nation could, as Glasgow’s motto puts it, “flourish” even as the post-industrial socio-economic conditions worsened under successive Tory governments led by Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) and John Major (1990-1997). Although rarely overtly political, the Scottish arts of this time were produced and consumed in a decidedly political environment and often dealt with the baleful effects of London-based policies formulated by a Conservative Party that had very little support in Scotland. As pre-Gen X writer James Kelman defiantly said in his 1994 Booker Prize acceptance speech, soon after Scots published “A Claim of Right,” “My culture and my language have a right to exist.” Although born in the mid-50s, Iain Banks and Janice Galloway did not begin publishing until the mid- to late- 80s and so may be considered honorary Gen Xers, as the central characters in their debut novels certainly are. In Banks’s The Wasp Factory (1984) the homicidally hyper-masculine sixteen-year-old Frank Cauldhame discovers that he is not Francis Leslie Caludhame, emasculated by the family dog when he was three; instead he is Frances Lesley Cauldhame, an experiment in sexual reorientation conducted by his comically fearful father, a former hippie. And in Galloway’s The Trick Is To Keep Breathing (1989), twenty-seven year-old Joy Stone struggles to fashion an independent identity for herself following the death of her married lover."
~ Robert Morace, Excerpt from Generation X Goes Global
Trailer of Trainspotting by Irvine Welsch
Robert Morace. Author or editor of six books, including, most recently, Irvine Welsh (2007) and a collection of new and reprinted essays on John Cheever (2011). He is currently writing a book-length study of post-devolutionary Scottish fiction and teaches at Daemen College in Amherst, New York.
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