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A Conversation With Sally Koslow

In addition to being the author of three novels and the former editor-in-chief of McCall’s Magazine, Sally Koslow has earned her chops as a crackerjack reporter. In her newest book, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest, she draws on that background and comes up with a penetrating analysis of today’s boomer parents and their frequently failed-to-launch offspring. She talked to Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about the need to establish boundaries, the Jewish tradition of über-parenting and how 34 has become the new 24 for a whole generation of young people.

How did the idea for this book come about?

Eleven years ago my oldest son moved from New York City to San Francisco after college graduation and two years later returned to Manhattan to start a new job. The plan was for him to live with us until he found his own apartment. When 9/11 happened a week later, however, his new job evaporated. He began collecting unemployment and seemed in no hurry to job-hunt. After ten months, my husband and I found out that our son had, in fact, been offered a job that he was thinking of declining—it wasn’t, in his eyes, perfect. After receiving a significant shove, he accepted the offer and moved to an apartment in Brooklyn with members of a band called, fittingly, The Oddjobs. Cut to three years ago. Having a young adult child return to the womb became something I noticed all around me. I also observed growing numbers of college grads in a state of constant improvisation, often shackled to their parents by cell phone and/or purse strings in a three-legged raise toward an undecided destination. Since I myself had been 24, or even 34, something new and interesting was clearly afoot. As a journalist, I decided to explore it and my research become Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest.