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Hartnett Delves into Generation Dementia

By Jada Butler
Staff Writer

Where do the angry Facebook post, the revealing Snapchat story and the unfiltered tweet disappear to after they’ve been deleted? Are they really gone forever? Michael Hartnett, author of “The Great SAT Swindle,” and “Universal Remote” introduces the question in his coming-of-age novel, “Generation Dementia,” released Oct. 1, 2015.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Hartnett
Photo Courtesy of Michael Hartnett

“I was first looking for something to deal with the idea of data,” Hartnett said, sharing his inspiration of the novel. His book revolves around the theme of technology and its impact on human behavior, also seen in his two previous works. In “Generation Dementia,” Hartnett wanted to embody the data in a physical form—as garbage.

“It’s always laying around, being picked up, and moved around,” Hartnett said.The story follows Narrator Hash O’Connell as he and the disoriented, the suicidal, the desperate cellphone addict lineup to get on a garbage truck in Frick Village. The story represents the overhaul of data-stressing teenagers today. In this revealing look at life, Hartnett divulges that even if we think our garbage is gone, it never goes away.

Alfred Doblin, an LIU alumni, wrote in a blurb on the jacket of the novel, “Hartnett artfully shows us the only truly non-disposable thing in our society is our garbage. It’s an enjoyable and perceptive read from the beginning to the end.”

Hartnett received his masters in English education at Long Island University, and holds a doctorate in English literature from SUNY Stony Brook. He teaches world literature, also known as English 8, at Post on Saturdays and teaches literature at Jericho High School.

Hartnett does not try to promote his books to his students at the university. “They already have enough to read with my class,” he said. With two other published works, his students eventually come around to reading them, commonly after getting to know their professor.

“It takes usually about a year to write, and then another year to rewrite and edit, for all the revisions,” Hartnett said on the process of writing his books. He is already working on his next book, exploring certain ideas about American history that he is curious about. “[I’m] not sure the direction,” Harnett said, “but it might deal with Disney World.”

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