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Adult Fantasy: searching for true maturity in an age of mortgages, marriages, and other adult milestones

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  347 ratings  ·  45 reviews
‘I pictured myself a wine-dark streak in a TV desert, ears too full of the summer wind to hear that ominous ticking in the sky: the sound of a cultural clock counting me out of youth.’

Briohny Doyle turned thirty without a clear idea of what her adult life should look like. The world she lived in — with its global economic uncertainty, political conservatism, and precarious
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 13th 2017 by Scribe UK
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  347 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Sam Cooney
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Give every single person in your life a copy of this book! I'm serious. What a ridiculously important contribution to the contemporary discussion of who we are and how we might live.
Mel Campbell
The casual grace of Doyle's writing, and the ease with which she combines material from secondary sources with anecdote and analysis, made this book such a pleasure to read. I grieve that it is being received mainly as a voice-of-a-generation memoir rather than a lucid work of cultural criticism and social commentary.

God I hate memoir as a genre, and I despise the industry pressure on authors to offer up the details of their personal lives as tools for a reader to understand other topics. I des
Lehia Johnston
Apr 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Briohny Doyle "is everything I hate about millennials" - a self righteous, completely selfcentred, directionless drag, who instead of finding direction for herself in life, decided to write a book having a go at anyone who has found their own direction or who has aims or goals or basically anyone who has achieved things she has not. 

Imagine actually wanting kids!?!?! Or to marry the person you love!?!?! Or aspiring to have a career!?!?! How dare you!? What is wrong with you!?! Dont be ridiculous
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I've never read a book that summarized my feelings about the traditional markers of adulthood (marriage, children, homeownership, money/career) so completely and so eloquently. I eschew these markers but still find myself upset, feeling like a failure, or left out because I don't partake in them. According to my kindle I've highlighted 25 passages and that was me being sparing in my highlighting. A couple of them here (more later when I'm not typing on my phone):

On how stupid it is to measure th
Michael Livingston
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is brilliantly incisive, thought-provoking and regularly laugh-out-loud funny. Doyle is super smart, and lays out an original and sharp analysis of what adulthood means in our current age.
Bri Lee
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I just turned 25 and this book enunciates so many things I previously didn't have words for - a gentle, gnawing sense of dread about my next decade, a reluctance to peg my "success" against the markers laid out for me, what the fuck marriage even means these days - Doyle covers it all. It's good journalism but excellent memoir. I recommend it for everyone but particularly readers in their 20's and 30's.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Instantly recommend! Even though I am not from or in Australia, there were lots of relatable examples that apply across the board. It presents solid retorts and evidence to that type of well-off older person who likes to gaslight millennials and say they're lazy or whatever - we all know about avocado-gate - without demonising any particular generation. There's also a strong personal element from the author which creates a nice thread throughout (hint: dogs!). The book didn't make me any more op ...more
Dasha M
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely needed this book at this period of my life. It came to me courtesy of a friend, and acted as a touchstone in a singularly difficult time.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I would easily recommend this.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
This started and finished well, with some interesting and intelligent patterns and observations on trends in developed countries in relation to the 20s to 30 age group. In these parts, Doyle seemed interested in coming to grips with the pressures and conflicts of this group, and understanding the way they are perceived by middle aged and older adults, with some insightful thoughts on the reasons for misunderstandings and portrayals in the media of the relationships between the age groups. Unfort ...more
Scribe Publications
Brilliant ... nuanced and engrossing … [Doyle] is intrepid and brutal, but only towards herself. She spills her doubt and angst yet she sallies onward, never judging or whining, always entertaining, open-hearted and open-minded … If you’re a millennial, or you love one, or you hope to live long enough to see the world governed by them, you should be reading Briohny Doyle.
Toni Jordan, The Guardian

It's dangerous to declare anyone the voice of your generation, but if Briohny Doyle was declared the
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Feeling a little bit calmer about my unconventional life and my choices now. Although yesterday someone did look at me like I had three heads when I told them I had no plans to have children. I guess I just have to dance to my own rhythm and try not to freak out.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I rated this four stars because Doyle raises some really pertinent questions about how we live our lives and what society deems to be important. We should be questioning why we do things more often and this book serves as a good reminder. It also highlighted the complete uselessness of intergenerational sledging.

It will however, be the last memoir style book I read by a millennial as I often find, as I did with this book, that the author’s message gets lost in a bunch of self-serving anecdotes
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Yes, these waters be dark and stormy, but they're dark and stormy for everyone.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not to embody stereotypically millennial traits like narcissism or anything, but I loved Briohny Doyle's Adult Fantasy – a series of personal (yet rigorously researched) essays that eerily reflected my own life and anxieties back at me. Adult Fantasy asks what it means to be an "adult", in a time when so many of the markers of adult success are out of reach in your 30s. Doyle's discussion of friendship, alternative living/home ownership plans, and the companionship of pets in adult life ~spoke t ...more
Sonia Nair
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Adult Fantasy articulates many of the anxieties that keep me up at night, from not being able to afford a home anytime in the near future to the shifting goalposts of adulthood, which mean I'm on the brink of 30 but am without child, house, married partner (traditional markers of success). Although I found some parts repetitive, I enjoyed Doyle's charting of the common financial worries across generations (which were frankly, terrifying) and the shifting notions of success. It simultaneously soo ...more
Jamie Thunder
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Adult Fantasy isn't really aimed at me, I know. I'm about Briohny Doyle's age, but with little of the same circumstance. At 30 I had a secure, well-paid job and a house, whereas she was still searching for a way to make a living in between scraping by in various entry-level jobs.

That's not to say hers is an uncommon situation. Young people in western countries are often stuck in precarious (and expensive) housing, while in precarious (and low-paid) jobs. This understandably has an impact on othe
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A thousand times yes! To be totally Gen Y about it, this book is my spirit animal. It takes all my muddled thoughts on growing up, "adulthood", "direction", life, career, friendships and relationships and family, and explores these ideas pragmatically. It inspects and interrogates the conventions of the weird process of growing up and tells an interesting, conversational tale as it does. It's not a memoir, but a thoughtful reflection of the ideas we all have about adulthood (I mean to say - the ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Briohny Doyle: brilliantly articulate in her clear-eyed gaze of life in the 21st century. This is a masterful and very humane exposition of life.

Every young person and every old person would benefit from reading this book. Young people, because it shows that no one is alone in their bewilderment at how to live a connected and mature life, in a world of student debt, unaffordable housing, and an insecure job market. How do you live in a way not prescribed by a normative and bounded worldview? Wha
Sam Van
Briohny Doyle asks, "How do you structure an adult life that resists normative definition without finding yourself shut out in the cold?". She asks this in part because she feels her life doesn't fit the expected pattern of adult milestones, but also because for today's new adults these milestones are shifting and no longer apply as they once did. This book made me feel so seen, and I think this is why it's such a hit with people around my age (having just turned thirty, as is the catalyst for D ...more
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
This is an intelligent and insightful read about what it really means to be an adult in today's world. Doyle has done a load of research into everything from property to relationships to parenthood to old age. I want my parents to read it just so I can point to certain parts and say "See! I'm not the only one who thinks like this!" because Doyle articulates it better than I ever could.

But at the same time, I appreciate the way she argues against the us vs. them mentality we all have when it com
Peter Greenwell
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
You can view this book in two different ways. One: as a work of a disaffected millennial who overthinks everything, or two: a poignant tract of non-conformism by a young woman who alternately (that's in "alternate") sees herself as a square peg in a societal round hole and then feels a need to adapt to the harsh, mutable world she's part of.

That's this book's major problem. The author doesn't know exactly what she wants this treatise to be - an autobiography? A guidebook for millennials? A bunch
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A rather relatable book for anyone who's ever found themselves to be society misfits, spiritually confused and unfulfilled, and unable to reach traditional adult milestones. Full of warmth, quirk, interesting personal anecdotes and self-deprecating humour. However, at times, the author's arguments feel contrived, desperate and self-serving, as though she were grasping at straws to justify her existence, trying desperately to convince herself that it isn't she that's the failure, it's society whi ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: oz, non-fiction
Insightful and so engaging. I don't know whether I am a young adult or an emerging adult or a failing adult. I don't think it matters, and I think this book does such a good job of probing and pushing against the structures that define 'adult' as a set of universally determined expectations and milestones. I love the memoir & personal aspects of this text and how it weaves through the theory and the statistics and says 'yes, I know that these choices and this lifestyle are what adult supposedly ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it liked it
If someone had emailed me a link to these chapters published online as separate essays, I would have read them and enjoyed them. But this is a book, and my standards for print publications are different. I am exactly the demographic Adult Fantasy is written about and for, but I didn’t connect to it. Maybe if you’re a total normie living in the outer burbs and feeling a bit stifled by convention you’d get something out of it, but in my inner city bubble we have well and truly moved on from the ma ...more
Holly McArthur
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Briohny Doyle examines how the concept of adulthood has changed over time, from baby boomers to millennials.

This book takes a critical look at the 'markers' of adulthood: marriage, financial freedom, a successful career, progeny and property ownership. Are these things still relevant and attainable for the majority of today's adults?

A highly relevant read for those facing the final years of their twenties. Thought provoking, moving and laugh out loud funny. Adulthood is definitely not one size
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Briohny Doyle is like us but smarter. In this book she manages to clearly articulate so many things about adulthood and identity and responsibility that I, as a Gen Y Australian, have felt and wrestled with and stumbled over in trying to explain. Rather than trying to ever explain it again, I’m tempted to just carry this book around and when a Baby Boomer starts whining about “lazy young people” or a fellow millennial is stressing about how they don’t feel responsible enough yet to become a pare ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I couldn't relate to all of this but the bits I could I found insightful. I appreciate her attempts to locate herself (from the very first page) and acknowledge where she was speaking from as a middle class straight white cis woman. If she hadn't this book would have suffered greatly. It did annoy me that it took getting to the last few pages of a 300 page book for her to even mention neoliberalism and its dehumanising effects, almost as an afterthought.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received this as a Goodreads Giveaway. The book is part autobiography and part sociological consideration of what it means to be an adult in the current age. I'm far from being the age group of the author and don't have children of that age so I couldn't find a way in to the book. I enjoyed the autobiographical sections more than the general theorising, but ultimately didn't find it interesting enough to finish.
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is so well written and researched, with the author’s personal journey woven in seamlessly and effectively. Doyle speaks very specifically to my own anxieties and preoccupations at this point in my life (approaching 30 - the milestone she’s facing at the book’s outset), but she also makes powerful observations about broader societal understandings of adulthood and how these impact people across all stages of life. I really loved this and highly recommend.
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Briohny Doyle is a Melbourne-based writer and academic. Her work has appeared in publications like The Lifted Brow, The Age, Overland, Going Down Swinging and Meanjin, among others, and she has performed her work at the Sydney Festival and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

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