Observer writer Leon Neyfakh is starting to make us uncomfortable for him. Back in his November profile of “nice” Vintage publicist turned author Sloane Crosely, he made reference to those who enter into conversations at parties and are “immediately consumed with anxiety about how [they’re] going to get out of it.” Today, he revisits this affliction again, writing about Megan Hustad, a Vintage editorial assistant in her twenties who has written a self-help book for “the young men and women of the creative class” and other such books for “creative-minded sophisticates.” “They are the ones panicking, after all,” Neyfakh writes of this demographic—
…reeling and trembling as they realize that they are not good at their jobs, that they have not read anything and that they are not fun to talk to. Sending e-mail makes them nervous, and when they go to parties, they have conversations with people and spend the whole time thinking about how to get out of them. Instead of showing up with their wits and one-liners intact and ready to go, an entire generation seems to be on the verge of panic.(Emphasis ours)
Okay, so (1) Neyfakh is not making himself sound like the greatest conversationalist here and (2) Really? An entire generation socially paralyzed in this manner?
But what about this entire “generation” of unapologetic self-promoters, the Julia Allisons and Timothy Sykeses and the countless others who think that they are innately fun and interesting and that their greatness should be shared with the world? What about, even Ivanka “I’m a 26-year-old Wharton grad blonde heiress and I might as well have fun with that by posing half-naked with a drill” Trump and her blond real-estate gobbling boyfriend, Observer owner Jared Kushner? Not to mention Megan Hustad herself, whose Website, meganhustad.com, sports a 600-word bio.
Neyfakh goes on to quote n+1 founder Marco Roth, former New Yorker editor Daniel Menaker, and author Andrew Boyd espousing the values of “success literature,” and mentions David Shipley and Hyperion editor-in-chief Will Schwalbe’s Send guide to e-mail etiquette. “Nobody’s too smart for the right self-help book,” says Boyd. “The urban creative population scoffs at it, but we all have our weak spots. There is a serious, sincere, maybe even relatively simple cut-to-the-chase kind of straightforward book that can actually speak to us and do us a great service in our moment of need.” Sure, we agree — everyone should get the help he deserves! But this list of characters, combined with Leon’s own issues, makes us feel fairly confident that it’s not the “urban creative population” that needs help; it’s writers.