How To Tell A Book From 20 Years Ago

Sarah Hoyt posts about hitting the sucker punch in a book:

I hit a substantial portion of the book, and the character is making fun of the names developers give to developments and how they make no sense. It could be a good funny thing, but the writer couldn’t help himself and had to say “And that’s why when developers became politicians they lied so much.”

Uh. Look, guys, until that point I thought I was reading something 20 years old at least, but at that point I went and looked at copyright and, son of a bitch, yep 2020.

She would not have avoided a sucker punch in a book from 2004. That’s where the era where we coined sucker punch (see also Marcia Muller and the Simple Art of Sucker Punch). Books from 2004 would have made their sucker punches at oilmen and those who had “I’m Proud Bush Is Our President” bumper stickers on their pickup trucks into the second Obama administration (ahem).

It is a phenomenon of the 21st century. I found it especially acute in Ed McBain’s books: Prior to 2000, some of his asides would rail against the powers that be, the men in Washington, and so on, but they became more personal in the Bush years.

Pretty much you have to presume now that books published during Republican administrations will rail at the president directly. And if it’s during a Democrat administration, the the Republicans, conservatives, and/or MAGA generally in some aside or bit of color.

See also a book report I’m working on with a book bearing a 2019 copyright date.

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3 thoughts on “How To Tell A Book From 20 Years Ago

  1. I had to read that a couple of times to realize the passage was talking about real-estate developers, not software developers

  2. I know. That’s how I read it the first time as well, but I had the benefit of the further context later in Hoyt’s post.

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