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KxBurns
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Questions for the Editor

Alexis Gargagliano, editor of A Fortunate Age, will be joining us next week. Please post your questions for Alexis here!
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KxBurns
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Alexis, thank you so much for joining us!

 

I was wondering what you thought of the depiction of the publishing industry in A Fortunate Age? Did you identify with Sadie as she navigated a career in the field?

 

Karen

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Vermontcozy
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Did you feel after finishing A Fortunate Age,that this book would be so relevant for the 30 somethings,and many couples that have changed so dramatically considering all the events that have occured.,changing lives.Thank you..Susan
Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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m3girl
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Alexis,

Thanks for joining us.  I would love to hear you comments about the style of the writing and what I feel are abrupt head hops or changes in perspective particularly in the first 3-4 chapters.  There was a good deal of rumblings from the group that they couldn't get into the book and that they weren't getting into the characters.  I am trying to do more 'closer' reading (per Francine Prose) and found that there really wasn't much of a transition between the present and the flashbacks and between character perspectives.  

 

And also I am interested to hear what attracted you to this book.

 

Thanks,

Susan 

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krb2g
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Alexis,

 

Thank you for joining us, and for sharing A Fortunate Age with us. I was wondering, what caught your eye and made you decide to take on this book? I think that by the end, Sadie was my favorite character, although I love to hate Caitlin Green-Gold. Who was your favorite character?

 

Thanks for your time.

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Tarri
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Welcome to the discussion and thank you for joining us and answering our questions. 

 

Was there a "Delores" in your office when you first started out?  And could Delores survive in today's environment/economy? 

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nfam
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Alexis,

 

Thank you for joining us. My question regards style. The mantra of writers today is "Show don't tell." Ms. Rakoff Smith's book is filled with long passages essentially giving backstory. Why did this seem the correct way to present this book? Many people, myself included seem to find it difficult to get involved with the characters because of this writing style. I'm just curious about the rationale.

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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor

I'm so glad you asked that. Before I read A Fortunate Age I really disliked reading novels that depicted the publishing world--in part because I like to escape when I read, and in part because I never felt anyone got it right.  But, Joanna really captured the essence of what it is like to be an editorial assistant--the long hours, the way you plan all your "free time" around the reading you have to do, the exuberance of buying your first book. And at the same time as she captures the reality of that life, she also pokes gentle fun at it, which is something I admire about the whole book, the way Joanna


KxBurns wrote:

Alexis, thank you so much for joining us!

 

I was wondering what you thought of the depiction of the publishing industry in A Fortunate Age? Did you identify with Sadie as she navigated a career in the field?

 

Karen


 

can make you care so deeply about the characters and also think critically about what they represent. But yes, editorial assistants do an enormous amount of work, for which they are not always recognized. It is a labor of love.

 


Learn more about A Fortunate Age.
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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor

I have never read a book that captured my life, and the lives of my friends (whether in Boston or Maine or LA or Brooklyn) so fully.  From the very first chapter I knew that the author understood something about me, and by the time I'd finished the book and shared it with my colleagues there was a group of young people in their 20s and 30s who felt the same way.

Vermontcozy wrote:
Did you feel after finishing A Fortunate Age,that this book would be so relevant for the 30 somethings,and many couples that have changed so dramatically considering all the events that have occured.,changing lives.Thank you..Susan

 


Learn more about A Fortunate Age.
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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Wow--I need pages and pages to really answer this question. I'll start by saying this is a book of surprises. I didn't know when I read the first few chapters where it was going, how ambitious it would be, and how deeply I'd care about all of the characters or how Joanna would weave them all together (which I think she does do). But, I was immediately drawn to the quality of the writing, which reminded me of so many great writers--Edith Wharton, George Eliot, Jane Austen; and to Joanna's gift at creating an ensemble scene peopled with characters who immediately felt real. Like the great Victorian writers, or Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise or Mary McCarthy's The Group, or Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City Joanna’s novel captures an era and the voice of a generation. There are a thousand reasons to fall in love with A Fortunate Age. But on the most basic level the thing that I fell in love with was Joanna’s uncanny ability to get our lives right. The way we live and love and work and fight and struggle. And while Joanna is brilliant at getting life onto the page, she’s also a sharp and witty observer who invites us to laugh at ourselves and our world.      

 

You also ask about time--I must admit I marveled at the way Joanna used time. The way she can, in a sentence, get you from Beth's wedding planning to a point months after the wedding (without bogging the story down with all the details of what happens in between). I also loved the way she can take you from one character's perspective to another's without losing the threads of all the other characters. It may take a few chapters for you to get used to the style but in the end I hope you'll be satisfied by the each character's storyline, and also by the collective experience of this group of friends, who embody so many of the characteristics of their generation.

 

I've rambled quite a bit, let me know if there's something more you'd like to know.

m3girl wrote:

Alexis,

Thanks for joining us.  I would love to hear you comments about the style of the writing and what I feel are abrupt head hops or changes in perspective particularly in the first 3-4 chapters.  There was a good deal of rumblings from the group that they couldn't get into the book and that they weren't getting into the characters.  I am trying to do more 'closer' reading (per Francine Prose) and found that there really wasn't much of a transition between the present and the flashbacks and between character perspectives.  

 

And also I am interested to hear what attracted you to this book.

 

Thanks,

Susan 


 


Learn more about A Fortunate Age.
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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor

My favorite character changes all the time. Rose Peregrine is amazing and I'm as smitten with her as Lil is.  But,

krb2g wrote:

Alexis,

 

Thank you for joining us, and for sharing A Fortunate Age with us. I was wondering, what caught your eye and made you decide to take on this book? I think that by the end, Sadie was my favorite character, although I love to hate Caitlin Green-Gold. Who was your favorite character?

 

Thanks for your time.


 

I related most closely to Beth and Sadie. And Emily is the character I was most charmed by.


Learn more about A Fortunate Age.
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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor

I've never actually encountered a "Delores." But, I've heard many tales. I don't think Delores could exist in exactly the same way now (the industry has changed a lot even from the 90s).

Tarri wrote:

Welcome to the discussion and thank you for joining us and answering our questions. 

 

Was there a "Delores" in your office when you first started out?  And could Delores survive in today's environment/economy? 


 


Learn more about A Fortunate Age.
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canterbear
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Thanks for taking part in this discussion.

I am an avid reader, 3 to 4 novels a month.

 In all the years I have been reading there have been only 3 books I did not finish.

 I usually stick with the author, no matter what, and often times see their writing improve through the novel.


This novel, was so uninteresting all the way through.

It felt disjointed and I would get lost or tend to skip over sections of flashback memories.

The reader was left out of so much of the characters thinking. How they evolved in this story, what made them make certain choices.

 I would like to know if this book was written for a specific readership? (of which I am not).

I read everything from young adult to essays.  

I have taught a creative writing class, but this book seems to require so much work to be a saleable item for the general readership.

  So how can you come up with all these "good" points about this novel?

 I wanted to edit out all the unneccessary wordage from each page.

I wanted to have characters I could get attached to and want to find out what happends to them.

There did not seem to be anything driving this story forward.

Can you explain what some of us seemed to have missed?

 

thanks. 

 

 

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fordmg
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Apparently I am not reading the same book.   I don't see anything classic about this one.

Sorry.

 

 


Alexis_Gargagliano wrote:

Wow--I need pages and pages to really answer this question. I'll start by saying this is a book of surprises. I didn't know when I read the first few chapters where it was going, how ambitious it would be, and how deeply I'd care about all of the characters or how Joanna would weave them all together (which I think she does do). But, I was immediately drawn to the quality of the writing, which reminded me of so many great writers--Edith Wharton, George Eliot, Jane Austen; and to Joanna's gift at creating an ensemble scene peopled with characters who immediately felt real. Like the great Victorian writers, or Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise or Mary McCarthy's The Group, or Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City Joanna’s novel captures an era and the voice of a generation. There are a thousand reasons to fall in love with A Fortunate Age. But on the most basic level the thing that I fell in love with was Joanna’s uncanny ability to get our lives right. The way we live and love and work and fight and struggle. And while Joanna is brilliant at getting life onto the page, she’s also a sharp and witty observer who invites us to laugh at ourselves and our world.      

 

You also ask about time--I must admit I marveled at the way Joanna used time. The way she can, in a sentence, get you from Beth's wedding planning to a point months after the wedding (without bogging the story down with all the details of what happens in between). I also loved the way she can take you from one character's perspective to another's without losing the threads of all the other characters. It may take a few chapters for you to get used to the style but in the end I hope you'll be satisfied by the each character's storyline, and also by the collective experience of this group of friends, who embody so many of the characteristics of their generation.

 

I've rambled quite a bit, let me know if there's something more you'd like to know.

m3girl wrote:

Alexis,

Thanks for joining us.  I would love to hear you comments about the style of the writing and what I feel are abrupt head hops or changes in perspective particularly in the first 3-4 chapters.  There was a good deal of rumblings from the group that they couldn't get into the book and that they weren't getting into the characters.  I am trying to do more 'closer' reading (per Francine Prose) and found that there really wasn't much of a transition between the present and the flashbacks and between character perspectives.  

 

And also I am interested to hear what attracted you to this book.

 

Thanks,

Susan 


 


 

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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor


nfam wrote:

Alexis,

 

Thank you for joining us. My question regards style. The mantra of writers today is "Show don't tell." Ms. Rakoff Smith's book is filled with long passages essentially giving backstory. Why did this seem the correct way to present this book? Many people, myself included seem to find it difficult to get involved with the characters because of this writing style. I'm just curious about the rationale.


 

I'm sorry that you were instantly compelled by these characters. I can't explain the rationale as the choice was Joanna's, but I can tell you why I liked this style so much--while each chapter had a plot (be it the wedding, the development of Beth and Will's relationship, or Emily's troubles with her sister) that moved the story forward and took us deeper into one of the characters I found that the little bits of exposition really broadened the novel for me.  It helped place the main characters in a larger social context, allowing us to see their familes, the places they grew up, the values they were raised with and their expectations of life--so the book became about more than just the events of these young people's lives.  Also, I found, that as I came to know the characters these little glimpses into the other parts of their lives seemed true to how they would think about the world.

 

 


Learn more about A Fortunate Age.
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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to thank you so much for having Joanna and me here. It is so fun to engage with so many great readers and to think about the book in new ways.

 

Best,

 

alexis


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dhaupt
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Hi Alexis,

I don't have a question I just wanted to say Here Here!! on a job well done.

Even though the novel is about people much younger than me, actually my daughter's age I found it very interesting and compelling. The characters were rich and multi-dimensional and so very flawed that I couldn't help but love them.

So good pick! 

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Alexis_Gargagliano
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Dear Debbie,

Thanks so much for your note. I'm so glad you read and loved the book--and that it moved you. I can't wait for my mom to read it.

 

All best,

alexis


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detailmuse
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Hi Alexis -- thanks for being here and bringing books for all of us. I'm just halfway through, had to press a bit to get this far but now in the middle of a very busy week, I find I'm thinking of the book all the time, can't wait to get back to it. I find that often with a long book -- it's slower to begin but then the immersion becomes lovely. And this is a long book, not so much in pages but in words. I'm wondering: what are the issues associated with acquiring, editing and marketing a big book these days?

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detailmuse
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Re: Questions for the Editor


Alexis_Gargagliano wrote:

I can't wait for my mom to read it.


Now this surprises me -- the mother of the editor doesn't get an ARC? :smileyhappy: But it brings to mind the ownership notice on the copyright page, I haven't seen that on other ARCs. I completely support the not-for-sale aspect of ARCs. Yet publishers usually permit (even encourage) passing an ARC along to someone else to read ... the more word-of-mouth and reviews, the better buzz. So is the new notice a tighter rein against ARC sales, or a pre-empt against tax liability, or something else? Thanks again.

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