There was a moment a year or two ago when the world suddenly belonged to forty-year-olds. Forty-year-old actors—Hanks, Cruise, Cage—commanded the Hollywood A-List. Forty-year-old writers—Michael Chabon, Yann Martel—were bagging the big book prizes; Billy Collins wrote his first real poems at 40, en route to becoming U.S. Poet Laureate (succeeded this year by the 40-year-old Louise Gluck). George W. Bush had skived off until he was forty before jogging right into the White House, And you could make a legitimate case that a guy pushing forty was the best player in each of the four major professional sports (Barry Bonds, Mario Lemieux, Rich Gannon, Michael Jordan). It looked as if Gen-X bellwether Doug Coupland had nailed the zeitgeist again when he said, a few months before turning forty himself, “Forty is the new thirty. The remark seemed less epigrammatic than somehow affirming. Buck up, my thinning-haired brethren: you are just now reaching cruising altitude.