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maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Chapter three, Beth is a mess. She has no self esteem, no job, no prospects, no boyfriend, she's running out of money, and she's smoking with her lung problems. I hope she pulls herself out of this situation she's in. Yvonne
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DesertRat
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎11-21-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Overall, I enjoyed reading these first 5 chapters. The first chapter seemed to be too long and was hard (at first) to understand because I was not familar with some of the terminology used. The wedding did serve to bring all of the friends together and we get a first glimpse of their relationships to one another.

 

The sex scene between Beth and Will was a little hard to believe, definitely not a position I would want to be in.

 

The first chapters show us a group of young people who are trying to define who they are and not become younger versions of their parents. This is something I think everyone struggles with.

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chris227
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Writing Style


detailmuse wrote:

bonereader wrote:

Some of the sentence constructs were too complicated. I reference one entire paragraph on page 3 that consists of only one sentence! HOWEVER, I became happily surprised as I read on. The author seemed to settle into a more comfortable style, and I really started to connect withthe characters and become invested in them.


hoo boy, yes, it's a distinctive writing style, sentences branching off and back in so many curlicue phrases. But like you, I felt that either the author settled in (or I acclimated!) pretty quickly, and the reading became more enjoyable. And there's actually a lot of good material in those asides.

 

It's a long novel -- only 400 pages but every one is dense with solid blocks of text. I estimated the word count at 200,000, that's more than twice the length of a "typical" novel. I want to ask the author/editor about that in today's market.

 

All the "like" in the dialogue is bumping me out of the story. Verbal stumbles like that (or um, uh, etc) don't generally get into published dialogue, so the inclusion here is certainly intended as characterization. It's as annoying here as in real life! ... a la the fuss about Caroline Kennedy's "you know."


I'm in total agreement agreement with he "likes."  The reader is bombarded with the fact that these are highly educated and intellectual women and yet they talk like they're a bunch of high school girls.  The difference in writing style between the conversations and descriptive paragraphs is huge!

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chris227
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five


IBIS wrote:

While reading "A Fortunate Age" I had the unmoored feelings I get whenever I visit a foreign country... 

 

Everything that was so vital to the main characters felt alien to me. Their conversations, their anxieties, their worries... it was like watching Jane Goodall studying the chimps in Africa. Or watching children play games with rules I don't know.

 

The irony is that I live in Boston, a mere 4-hour drive to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Yet the characters' mindsets and concerns couldn't be farther from my own... 

 

Although I like some of the characters, I feel emotionally distant from them...  

New York City at the turn of the 20th Century in this book felt as if it could have taken place on another planet.

 


What an interesting comparison!  I'm from central NJ, college educated, and only a couple of years younger than the characters in the book but these characters are like no one I've met in my entire life.  I feel absolutely no connection to them and actually don't even like them very much. 

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insightful
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

At first, I also had a hard time with the beginning.  Not knowing if I will enjoy this book.  But it finally came around.  Lil's wedding was a surprise to everyone but I don't think her friends were jealous because she was getting married.  I think it was more a Wow, I thought she said she will never get married! to them so they probably were a little shocked.  Beth definitely had some issues within herself that I felt should have been dealt with before getting involved with Will. 
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insightful
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I agree with you in some way.  I do believe that Rankoff put a lot of unnecessary things in her writing and not enough of the things readers will like to know.  In some parts of the reading I felt like okay why are you telling us this just get to the point already. 
Reader 2
tanyaTN
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎10-16-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I have found the book very interesting so far.  I am very drawn to each character and find myself wanting more in depth information.  I would be frustrated at the end of the chapter to turn the page and be in a totally new time period.  Big gaps.  That is not saying I don't enjoy the book.  Because it keeps me wanting to read more, maybe that is the intent.  But a little too gappy timewise.  Very frustrated to find Beth engaged with nothing mentioned from the first time they sleep together to announcing their engagement (by the way, without him even present).  I will keep reading though!!:smileyhappy:
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insightful
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I felt that the kinky sex scene was to show what kind of state Beth was in.  This showed that she was insecure within herself and confused.  It shows that she did not feel great about herself at the time.  That is the reason for the kinky sex scene.
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Chatterbox
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎11-28-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five


katknit wrote:

I think this book is capturing its characters right after their preparation for life has ended and as they are feeling their ways toward building the lives they think they want. As all of us must do, they will need to reassess and discard mistaken ideas along the way. 

 


This is an excellent point, and goes to the heart of part of the 20-something experience -- what happens when your dreams/goals run fill-tilt into reality.

 

Katknit's comments also made me wonder about the extent to which the characters are trying to propel themselves into those future 'adult' lives by acts of will (marriage, Beth's relationship with Will, etc.) rather than by pursuing what it is that they know they are passionate about and waiting for the rest to fall into place. (Reminds me a bit of hunting for my keys; the more anxious I get about not finding them, the more elusive they become.) I have seen friends go through the whole dating thing, and discard 'candidates' because they don't fit preconceptions -- i.e. this guy isn't working in a profession or committed to a career, or this person isn't tall, or... You can't go into life or a relationship with a checklist as if you're packing a bag for a two-week vacation. So maybe there is an element in this story of people who have waited for a long time -- through college and graduate school -- dreaming of what their lives would be like and now they don't want to wait. If the person who comes along is unsatisfactory in some ways (Will as impotent, with a child), Beth will find some way to translate those flaws into advantages rather than delay her next "step" forward, however foolish that may prove in the longer run. In that context, her musing in chapter two that "She wasn't necessarily enjoying herself, but she wasn't yet ready to give up on the possibility of enjoying herself" really resonated with me.

 

But overall, what I keep coming back to is that this is a classic plot that has lots of potential -- and yet I keep feeling let down in a way by the writing. Sometimes there is way too much exposition that doesn't add anything to the character or the situation. And sometimes there are gaps -- important gaps. I can't immerse myself in the characters or the situations because I never feel at ease with the writing. If I weren't participating in this online group, I'd probably stop reading at this point, because I don't have the confidence that I'm going to find either plot or characters so compelling that it will offset the problems with structure & writing.

 

 

 

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aberni02
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I agree with most of the posts that the first chapter was difficult to get through. It was descriptive and read like a chapter that should appear in the middle of a novel, not right at the beginning. However, Rakoff's writing style kept me reading through that first chapter: it's very interesting and it really draws me in.

 

As I read through the first five chapters and learned more about each of the characters, I appreciated the first chapter more and more. I re-read it several times while I was at different points in the novel and found that it made more sense each time. Re-reading the first chapter definitely added to my reading of the book. 

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CJINCA
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎11-28-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five


aberni02 wrote:

I agree with most of the posts that the first chapter was difficult to get through. It was descriptive and read like a chapter that should appear in the middle of a novel, not right at the beginning. However, Rakoff's writing style kept me reading through that first chapter: it's very interesting and it really draws me in.

 

As I read through the first five chapters and learned more about each of the characters, I appreciated the first chapter more and more. I re-read it several times while I was at different points in the novel and found that it made more sense each time. Re-reading the first chapter definitely added to my reading of the book. 


I agree that a later re-reading the first part of the book helped me appreciate the characters and the author's style a little more.  That said, I think if not for this book club, I might have put the book down and not picked it back up again...maybe I am finding that the book-club experience (new for me) is contributing more to my enjoyment of the book than the book itself.  Hmmmm.

Reader 2
harleybarbie
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎01-14-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

In Chapter 4 I realized why Lil did not hang out with her friends while she was dating Tuck, he's a Jerk antd onlythinks of himself; evidence being how he behaves to Lil when he is fired, which I feel he should of been.  I think Sadie also added to his problem by suggesting that he submit the idea for a book about Ed, which he gets an advance for. 

 

Chapter 5 though is my fave with the book opening on the party to celebrate Tucks new book, which is not written yet.  When Sadie goes into the room and catches Caitlin with someone making out, she assumes it is her husband Rob, until she sees him while she is leaving and it dawns on her that Tuck was with Caitlin.  Great ending to 5.  I don't like Tuck and I wonder why Lil is making excuses for him.

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aberni02
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

As someone who spent most of the 90's under the age of 10, it is nearly impossible for me to relate to the exact societal context in which the novel takes place. However, I am currently an undergraduate student earning a degree during an uncertain time in the job market. I found myself able to relate to many of the characters much more than I thought I would be able to. It was very interesting to see how each character's opinions and ideals are changing as they begin to accept more responsibility and settle into life after school. 
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PinkBaby
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎09-03-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

soft porn you have got to be kidding.:smileyvery-happy: I really dont think the sex scence was to much  it really wasnt that exciting. i have read alot more explicit than that. as for almost putting the book down. I almost quit reading the book to. i hope it gets better to. because right now it seems to plod along.:smileyindifferent:
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HannibalCat
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five


jpock wrote:


I am in agreement with many of you about chapter one - extremely tedious.  It was hard to get through.  The characters in the novel graduated from college at about the same time that I did, yet I don't remember ever being so self-centered and so pompous.  Frankly, I found the whole lot of them to be rather distasteful.  I wanted to yell "GROW UP!!" at them...  I also found myself a little bogged down by the infinite NYC detail - the boroughs, the streets, the trains, all enumerated.  I thought at first that perhaps the book was meant to be regional fiction, but I think the author was trying to give the reader a detailed (maybe too??)backdrop for the story.

 

The story did seem to pick up after Ch. 1, but I was shocked that Beth and Will became engaged.  How did that happen and wow, such strange circumstances??  I was tripping over detail in ch. 1 and now I'm left wondering if I skipped a chapter.  I'd love more information about the relationships between the characters.

 

Lil should definitely kick Tuck to the curb.  What a baby. 

 

I'm interested to see how the chapters continue (hopefully) to develop. 

 ___________________________________________________________
 
I can't agree more with you that have professed your confusion with the first chapter and the confusion with the characters involved. There are lots of conflicting theories spouted by these 90s women who's subsequent behavior does not bear them out. I had a difficult time getting through the first chapter, but wow, did the others take off. I am beginning to get hooked on the people who inhabit the pages.
 I am one who has to read to the schedule so I won't give away anything, so I stopped reading until I could see what the postings were. I will start the new chapters after I get through the current posting.
In the meantime, I have to say the postings are excellent and really make me reflect on what I have read. And I quite agree with you that Tuck should be kicked to the curb. 

 

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Meg1897
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎11-21-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

The first chapter is definitely difficult to get through. There are so many details packed into each sentence that I forget what's going on in the story by the time I get to the punctuation.
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Malaguena
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎11-24-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I agree with aberni02's comment that, while the book depicts a particular generation, it has universal appeal to anyone going through their "quarter-life crisis", adjusting to life in the Real World without the cushion of college.  As someone who recently faced such an adjustment, I can relate to the difficulty and uncertainty of this time.  That being said, even though I could identify with the situations, I could not identify with the characters and found nothing about any of them that was likable.  I also feel the dialogue hinders the narrative rather than strengthens it.  The conversations do nothing to advance the plot, and yet, as other posters commented, there are gaps of description and details that would be important for further character development.
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I am not saying its all bad or all good but it was like a shock to all of me when I read where these two were engaged after that small weird encounter and then Blast! They are engaged! Just alittle shock there!

 


RobynG wrote:
I am with you 100%. We have this weird sex scene, and the next thing you know they're engaged? I would have liked to see more about Will's character and Will & Beth's relationship growing.

 

Wordsmith
maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters One through Five

Chapter four, Tuck is fired, everyone complains constantly, noone takes responsibility for anything, everyone else is to blame for what happens in their life. They should all just grow up. I can't believe Beth is marrying Will. Yvonne
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jaa19221
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎11-13-2008
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Re: Chapters One through Five

I found the first chapter a little difficult to read due to the abundance of details.  However, the chapters that followed started to flow more easily once you could separate the characters.  I have grown to like Rakoff's writing style.

 

I think that Lil's friends were shocked at the news of her wedding.  It seemed she was the first to grow up.  I found the sex scene odd, but not surprising. Beth's father was a little absentee-was she looking for some kind of male approval?  Or was it she was trying to find herself desirable after the encounter with Dave at the wedding?  Is she trying to drive Dave from her mind?  Or is she trying to make up for lost time and the 4 years she spent in "boring" Milwaukee?  She is reluctant to bring up Will in conversations for fear of rejection from her friends which shows a lack of confidence in her decisions.  Then when Sadie and Tal start seeing each other coupled with Lil and Tuck already being married is it any wonder that Beth agrees to marry Will?  I am curious to see how the rest of the story pans out.

A room without books is like a body without a soul. ......Cicero





In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. ...Mortimer Adler
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