Speaking The Truth: Generation S.L.U.T. Author Marty Beckerman Stops By For A Chat

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After reviewing Marty Beckerman's debut novel Generation S.L.U.T. I was left with more than a few questions. I decided to sit down with the author to get his thoughts on the book. I caught up with Beckerman as we round upon the 7th anniversary of Generation S.L.U.T.'s publication. A lot can change in seven years. Let's see how the soon to be wed author, feels about the book that got his career started.

Let’s Talk About Sex: Other than, “making some money, getting the hell out of Alaska, and maybe fucking a bitch or two”, what was your purpose for writing Generation SLUT?

Marty Beckerman: Jesus Christ, did I actually say that? Wow... I can't read anything I said in college; it just makes me cringe.

The real purpose of Generation S.L.U.T. was to deal with the emotional turmoil I went through between the ages of 17 and 20. A number of my friends attempted and committed suicide. Others became addicts or were sexually assaulted. None of my peers were happy; nobody seemed to believe in love, just casual hookups. I felt unfathomably alone in the world, and the book was a form of therapy to keep myself sane. But hey, I made some money, got out of Alaska and had lots of sex, so I guess it was a success?

There's a line toward the end of the book about how adults use dismissive phrases such as "teen angst" and "hormones" and "melodramatic" because they want to forget how much it hurts to grow up. The awful thing is that I'm guilty of this cynicism now. For the life of me, I cannot remember (okay, now I'm quoting song lyrics) why those feelings were so overwhelming, why every mundane interaction was so seismically important. You grow an emotional shell in order to survive, I guess, and either shed that part of yourself or bury it deep inside... which is why I consume a handle of Jim Beam for breakfast every morning. Ha! Ha!

But I still get fan mail from teenagers coping with the same issues I did back then, and the book makes sense to them even though it doesn't make sense to me anymore because it's written by a 19-year-old for 19-year-olds. Maybe it won't make sense to them in a few years, but it'll make sense to their younger siblings. It's the Circle of Life, really, which is the most pretentious thing I've said all day.

LTAS: In my review of Generation SLUT I describe it as an interesting book, worth a read. I also say that it feels like two different books, which have two different missions. I actually say, “The first is a novelization of the UK television show Skins based in North Boring As Fuck, Alaska, USA with a bit of Daria level high school cynicism thrown in for good measure. The second is a parent baiting, fear mongering, irresponsibly fact misappropriating, piece if Bolshevik.” Would you agree? How do you see Generation SLUT?

MB: I've never seen Skins. As for the rest of your accusations...

The problem with the book is that it explains itself too much. The novella is the probably strongest part -- I devoted an enormous amount of work to it, hundreds of hours over five years, and I'm definitely proud of that effort -- but it would've been stronger without the lectures and editorializing. Fiction should say something about society and humanity and love and death, but subtly and between the lines. The story needs to speak for itself; the author doesn't need to spell everything out, and shouldn't claim to speak for an entire generation. This is especially perilous for authors in their late teens and early twenties, because it's so much easier to have a strident "cause" than a... fuck, if I explain all this, I'm just repeating the mistake, right?

Anyway, the result is that the book comes across as more conservative than I ever intended. I was trying to convey a philosophical argument amount the value of love in a culture that celebrates hedonism, but a lot of people -- especially journalists -- misinterpreted it as "sex is wrong, save yourself for marriage." Whereas nobody derived that overwrought message from Less Than Zero, which is an amazing story, not an essay.

But yeah, I can't tell you how strange it was getting accused of "puritanism" and "fundamentalism" while also getting laid on a regular basis. It's like someone calling you a Nazi right before you light the menorah.

LTAS: I read your article “Hi, I'm Marty, and I'm a recovering Republican” where you chronicle your descent into the conservatism and you ultimate redemption. I never saw much of that descent in your writing, except in the addendum, which I thought, really poisoned my moderately moderate mind against the book; did that effect your decision to write the book in the way you did?

MB: My conservative phase happened after the book was released, as a response to the criticism from liberals who thought I was a puritan.

It was kind of like, "You think I'm a right-winger? Fine, I'll be whatever is going to piss you off." It was completely motivated by my bruised feelings, which is probably true for a lot of political extremists. I'm very lucky that I calmed the fuck down and came back to the center. (I'm also lucky that my "recovering Republican" article received so much positive attention -- especially from Andrew Sullivan, who said "this is called thinking" -- because I desperately wanted to correct the public record.) A lot of people get lost in those psychotic echo chambers forever, where they lose the ability to think for themselves, and I was almost one of them. The point of America is pursuit of happiness, and you can't be happy if you're angry over politics all the time.

LTAS: It’s 2014 and you have to opportunity to release a 10th anniversary edition of SLUT, what would you change?

MB: For all its faults, the book is a time capsule of adolescence (mine and others') in the early '00s. Could I write a better novel about the same subject today? Yes. Could I write a more authentic one? No, because it would be approximation instead of documentation -- nostalgia instead of honesty -- so a major rewrite would not be appropriate. However, I would update my favorite sexual position from "sixty-nine" to "reverse cowgirl."

LTAS: Next up for you I have the Sexy Seven.

1. Boxers or briefs?

Boxer-briefs. Ain't no bulge like a boxer-briefs bulge. (Also: Sacfree.)

2. How do you like your toast?

Soaked in Everclear.

3. Favorite lube?

Menstrual emissions. Duh.

4. Condoms or bareback?

Condoms aren't so bad -- they make it feel like you're almost having sex.

5. Favortie sex toy?

Your mother's asshole.

6. Vajazzling yay or nay?

I won't judge it until I taste it.

7. Worst sexual experience?

Giving myself Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome from humping my mattress. Fortunately it was 100% reversible... the physical trauma, I mean. Not the psychological one.

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