Paul La Farge's Luminous Airplanes is itself a luminous book, an exquisitely polished small world of characters and emotions that captures a generation's coming of age through the perspective of one young man. La Farge's first-person narrator is a literary seeing eye whose name we never learn, but he belongs to the generation sometimes called Gen X, and his growing up occurs side-by-side with vertiginous changes in American culture. As a kid, the narrator learns to program in BASIC on one of the first home computers; as a young man, he finds a way to make his living in the world as a "content manager" - a line of work that seems strangely absurd and empty of content (even though the pay is good until the Silicon Valley bubble pops).
This technological evolution, along with the narrator's other struggles with family and romantic identity, read as true-to-life and symbolic in the ...
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