We recently published Lauren Cassani Davis’s brilliant “Teenagers.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
) There’s a great mix of pop culture references and ancient allusions at play here — I especially like the little winking nod to Spiderman! How did you decide on this blend of the modern and the old?
I’d been reading The Odyssey with one of my classes, so some of it just sort of leaked out in the first draft! Then, as I revised, I realized that the modern/ancient pattern captured a feeling I was trying to articulate. The experience of being a teenager is totally specific to your own generation—ephemeral songs, brands, trends—but also transcendently human.
2) In this piece, I find a feeling of inevitability and loss, but it all seems almost willful. The teenagers won’t “pretend to act surprised” when meteors come; they don’t believe in history and will only “remember what they want to.” Do you think that speaks to the world these teenagers have inherited?
For sure. It speaks to their reckless rebellion against what previous generations have wrought, and at the same time a grim, almost absurd acceptance of their fate. Not to get too existentialist, but I’m thinking of Heidegger’s concept of thrown-ness; we’re each born into a set of historical circumstances completely beyond our control. The willful attitude of the teenagers in this piece (based on the ones I now know and the one I once was) is a reaction to that condition. A way to find empowerment and solidarity in the face of a flawed inheritance; one they’ll have no choice but to face.