The Blunder Years

You're scared and confused. The world spins queasily out of control, terrible menaces loom all around and you can't remember who you're supposed to be. No, you haven't suffered a brain injury or even smoked too much pot: You're going through a quarter-life crisis.

An angst-ridden post-adolescent phase that's seeming to impact more and more twenty somethings, the quarter-life crisis has fueled pop culture outpourings ranging from The Graduate to the musical Avenue Q, not to mention many self help books. Strangely, there's been little in terms of literary approaches to the phenomenon — until now. Enter Generation What?: Dispatches From the Quarter-Life Crisis, a new anthology compiled by Denver editor Bess Vanrenen, full of essays on the quarter life crisis written by the poor saps going through it.

"It's not a self help book. It doesn't offer practical advice, but it offers something better. You can read about other people's experience with their quarter-life crisis and realize, 'I am not alone in feeling this way,'" explains Vanrenen. "There are some really great writers and really great stories." That includes several local writers such as Rebecca Landwehr, Vince Darcangelo and Westword's own Jared Jacang Maher, opining about moving back in with their parents, overcoming a drug addiction and realizing — the horror! — that they now make their bed without being told.

For those feeling a quarter-life crisis coming on, Vanrenen has advice: "You just have to stick it out. Maybe go to a therapist ... and buy the book!" Vanrenen and some of the book's other contributors will read from Generation What? tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street. For more information, call 303-436-1070 or go to

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