Twentysomethings Meet, Publish; A Gen Adrift On Internets— "To Steal Back the Innocence!"

Last night at Beauty Bar, the retro-themed watering hole in the East Village, a chatty gaggle gathered to laud the publication of the new Random House anthology “Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers.”

The book features 29 essays on topics ranging from the Serious—obsessive-compulsive disorder, rape, being gay when your mom is homophobic—to the more lighthearted, or what one might call the Universal Overachieved Twentysomething Experience, such as moving back in with your parents, discovering New York, and moving to Brooklyn, and how to explain to the kids you tutor in Harlem that you’ve accepted a freelance writing assignment that puts you up at the St. Regis for a few days.

The anthology’s editors are two overachieved 24-year-olds, Jillian Quint (Vassar ’04) and Matt Kellogg (Yale ’04), who have seen firsthand the benefits of imposing their generational viewpoint upon the august publishing house. “We’ve both gone from editorial assistants to assistant editors,” Mr. Kellogg said. “And our bosses are here!”

The book’s authors wore name tags that said, cheerily, “Hi! I’m a Twentysomething.” Many huddled in tight-knit groups, nursing the free Brookyn Brewery beer, discussing the weirdness of the almost-fame that had been thrust upon them.

Each had entered a contest run by Mr. Kellogg and Ms. Quint last year, in which they solicited essays from anyone between the ages of 20 and 29, on any topic, with the winner receiving $20,000. The winner was in attendance—Joey Franklin, who wrote about working the night shift at Wendy’s.

It was his first time in New York. “People are more skeptical as a generation,” Mr. Franklin said, drinking a glass of water. He is Mormon. “I don’t drink for religious reasons, but also by choice,” he said.

“We’re trying to steal back the innocence that was stolen from us,” Mr. Franklin said. “By the media, by pop culture.”

“The Internet is liberating and confusing,” Ms. Quint said, peering through black-framed glasses. One partygoer, an Andy Samberg lookalike, was overheard characterizing the crowd as “geeky librarian chic”; there were many tote bags bearing the names of various publishing companies. “It’s a curse and a blessing. Nobody’s really listening,” she said, and sighed.

When asked if she was on MySpace, one of the authors said that the editors had requested that they each make a profile. “You know, to publicize the book,” she said.

Doree Shafrir