Why is it chicks like chick-lit so much? The label (of the genre) implies that "love conquers all" is a gender-specific storyline. I won't dispute that, but I'll suggest it might also be sensitive to history. Charles Webb's classic, <i>The Graduate</i> delighted me in part because it brought back a memory of, not just a movie and the person with whom I first watched it, but a time when anything seemed possible within the magic of that four-letter word. In 1963, it was not just amusing to watch a young man and woman bulldoze their way into a future they believed they could create based on literally nothing except the magic of that word, it was also <i>my</i> belief, the belief of my peers, the belief of my nation. In 1963 villainous parents were the biggest bogeys I could imagine. Being seduced was a wet dream, not the modus operandi of governments and businesses. Yes, Webb's dialogue is brilliant. Yes, his punctuation is careless. But, the story? While it might be less comprehensible to males of a more recent generation, it is now the familiar pattern of rom com, the mantra of a lost era, the memory of a time and an age when love-at-first-sight ruled my world.
I found this novel intriguing because of its style: it was almost like reading a play. All of the subtleties are in the dialogue, either by the words chosen or by the silences. The obvious misunderstandings in the generations, the young adults naivete, the old adults cruelty all come together to create tension-filled relationships where lies, mislaid good intentions and disillusion dominate.
I'm not sure I truly understand Mrs. Robinsons' motivation for evil (I don't think she was much interested in Benjamin) and the ending has a goofy optimism which clashes with the rest of the novel, but overall I very much enjoyed the break in tradition, questioning of values and triumph of the young. Definitely representative of an epoch.
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