Logan is a superhero fantasy with a noir twist. In a gritty near-future America where it has been 25 years since the last mutants were born, an aging, hard-drinking Logan works as an Uber limousine driver, anonymous in a world that seems to have moved on from its time of superheroes. When he isn’t chauffeuring bachelorette parties and drunken bros, he cares for the elderly Professor Xavier, who has been stricken with a degenerative brain disease. The rest of the X-men are dead. It seems Logan and Xavier are among the last of their kind, soon to be gone. Then they meet Laura, a young girl with mutant powers identical to Logan’s, and Logan is once more thrust into the role of reluctant hero.
Hillbilly Elegy is Vance’s moving personal story of his family’s struggles with poverty, domestic violence, and substance abuse in a working-class Appalachian culture beset by both economic insecurity and its own contradictions.
On the surface, superhero fantasy and memoir belong in different sections of the library catalog. Yet if we accept the premise that speculative fiction is a lens through which we view contemporary anxieties, then the illusion of separation disappears and the two stories converge, with Logan depicting a fictionalized framing of the anxieties that the real people portrayed in Hillbilly Elegy are living every day.
Unbound writers CS Peterson, Amanda Baldeneaux, and Mark Springer sat down to discuss these two works that seem to have manifested the zeitgeist of this present American moment.