Scribe Publications 2017
Briohny Doyle’s Adult Fantasy is an unflinching examination of the cultural mythology surrounding the wispy notion of adulthood. Doyle is in her early thirties and still plagued by the feeling she’s not a proper adult. She doesn’t have her life together like the thirty-somethings in television sitcoms: her writing career is still in its infancy; home ownership is a far-flung dream; she has no desire to be a mother.
More importantly, Doyle isn’t convinced by this list of adulthood pre-requisites. Adult Fantasy sets out to deconstruct the Western fixation on marriage, reproduction, and home ownership and their relationship to the preconceived idea of a functional, successful adult. These institutions are incised with a steady, expert hand. The misogynistic and homophobic history of marriage, the relatively new sanctity of childhood, the impossibly high (and extremely contradictory) expectations placed on mothers, and the near-impossible millennial dream of home ownership, are all unpacked and examined.
Doyle is particularly interested in the generational gap between millennials and their parents and the generational sledging that distracts from a changing and frightening economic landscape. Doyle uses the distance between she and her father, a working journalist, as an example of both a shifting working environment and misplaced generational sledging. Her father is woeful that his daughter is still studying in her thirties, and cannot simply go to the Advertiser and ask for a weekly column. He sees this as a lack of drive indicative of a millennial work ethic, whereas Doyle is quick to point out the sheer volume of university-educated millennials who are unemployed, underemployed or underpaid. For Doyle, this is a sign that things are not the way her father remembers.
As a middle class, mid-twenties writer, who works in what Doyle dubs a ‘survival’ job, I’ve never had a piece of non-fiction resonate so totally. Doyle does an excellent job of navigating an angst-ridden topic without sounding too self-pitying, or too privileged. She interviews a string of thirty-somethings who have chosen varying degrees of adulthood, including a polyamorous triad, divorced thirty-somethings, and a woman seeking life in a commune.
If you’re a millennial stuck by the casualisation of the workforce and impossibly high rental prices, I would encourage giving this book to your parents. If you’re the parent of a millennial, who’s path is taking a different one to your own, I would suggest reading this book and then giving it to your millennial to make them feel less alone.
Words and photography by Riana Kinlough
Adult Fantasy is available for purchase here.