Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Moderator
KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
0 Kudos

The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

A Fortunate Age takes place at the turn of the millennium and portrays a time of cultural shift in conceptualizations of work, marriage, art, social class, and more. How does the tension between old and new play out in the novel? Which relationships among the book's characters are particularly representative of this shift? What role does technology play?
Inspired Contributor
mapleann
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

The “Fortunate Age” culture:  To gain membership one must pledge as a social inferior according to the values of the baby boomers, be rebellious while remaining invisible, promote irresponsibility as responsible when it promotes social change and challenges the status quo; and members may only reach professional success, the breaking of intangible barriers, through entrepreneurial modes, and all while fighting corporate mentality. 

 

The "fortunate age" is a self imposed Hobson's choice. It remind me of a writer's, or artist's or philosophizer's, dilemma of wanting publishing success and recognition for ones work, but that would ultimately mean altering ones work to please a mass market audience; the writer becomes nothing more than a mountebank. Endorsing any of the ideals that their parents' generation upholds would invalidate their own ideals, marriage for example.

Contributor
bookclubclassics
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎11-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

I may need to think about this question further, but my initial reaction is that "a fortunate age" seems to mean we have the luxury of considering ideals like "happiness" and "fulfillment" in addition to the realities of "responsibility" (i.e., paying the bills, retirement, etc.). 

 

I just read a line in Netherland:  "...we all find ourselves in temporal currents and that unless you're paying attention you'll discover, often too late, that an undertow of weeks or of years has pulled you deep into trouble."

 

I think members of "a fortunate age" watched that happen to previous generations and want so much to avoid this that they/we become stymied.

kgalles
www.bookclubclassics.com
Inspired Contributor
canterbear
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

There is a story here, but I feel I am having to weed through all the flashback type memories to find it.

There is so much character switching and not letting the reader in on the process of events that are happening in the current time of the story.

I found myself passing over parts just to get back to the main story, with the main characters.

It really needs to be tightened.

All the "memories" tend to pull us away from the flow of the story.

 It does not seem either strong character driven nor plot driven.

 I really would like more of the story and less of the frills.

 

Inspired Correspondent
nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

I found the description of Sadie's mother, Rose, to be the most indicitive of the difference between one generation and another. Granted in Sadie's case it's more like two generations, but that only served to point up the major differences.

 

Technology makes a difference. The young people feel they control the future because they understand the technology. It's interesting to see how they delude themselves. 

 

When I finish the book, I'm sure I'll see other relationships that are indicitive of the cultural shift.

Inspired Wordsmith
krb2g
Posts: 289
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age


mapleann wrote:

 

The "fortunate age" is a self imposed Hobson's choice. It remind me of a writer's, or artist's or philosophizer's, dilemma of wanting publishing success and recognition for ones work, but that would ultimately mean altering ones work to please a mass market audience; the writer becomes nothing more than a mountebank. Endorsing any of the ideals that their parents' generation upholds would invalidate their own ideals, marriage for example.


I agree with you mapleann, and I think that this choice plays out for Lil, Tuck, and Beth specifically in their decisions to stay in or to leave grad school. I think Tuck leaves looking for a different kind of success (one potentially not available to an academic), but that he doesn't realize what he's given up until he's already lost it.

 

In fact, I'm very interested in the way academia and grad school play out in relation to the book and to the characters' lives.

Scribe
debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

I wonder if the title of the book "A Fortunate Age" was meant to be ironic (incidentally,  a word i thought was over-used in the book). The characters were so lost at times and so desperately wanted to things to be the way they used to be. They wanted to be different and found themselves making the same choices as everyone else. Being in your 20's can be so difficult. That really came across well in the story.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
"bookmagic418.blogspot.com
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

Well, I think the 90's was a time when lots of college students  were perhaps pampered by their folks, if they came from affluence, so they dropped out to "find themselves", become ski bums, etc., but most only took a year off and then joined the real world. Some even worked for the year to determine the direction they wanted to follow.

Also, the Tech Age encouraged "nerds" to come into their own and they were really successful and so were their business offshoots. The amounts of money being earned by really young people was like monopoly money. They were so smart and had such creative ideas that they didn't really need more education. There start ups were successful as soon as they were rolled out. They did encourage a different kind of more relaxed and perhaps irresponsible culture which kind of faded a bit when the bubble burst. It was not the culture of everyone.
I felt that the four young women who seemed, at first, determined to carve their own independent way, sans men, soon changed their minds and went mainstream as is what often happens when reality sets in and the fairytales fade. Life is not as easy as it looks from the vantage point of a student. Eventually, adults have bills to pay.

twj 

Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

Debbook: At the age of this group, they have finished school and out in the world. They have alot of choices they can make. It can make their life wonderful or not. We can be what we want to be and the age of this group, they have a great advantage to make it or break it.  In my 20's I had more stamina than I did later on. I felt the world belonged to me, of course you can mess up that feeling, in more ways than one but to me it is a fortunate age. Alot of problems but alot of choices.

 

 

 

 


debbook wrote:
I wonder if the title of the book "A Fortunate Age" was meant to be ironic (incidentally,  a word i thought was over-used in the book). The characters were so lost at times and so desperately wanted to things to be the way they used to be. They wanted to be different and found themselves making the same choices as everyone else. Being in your 20's can be so difficult. That really came across well in the story.

 

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

Gosh guys, every age is a fortunate age!

twj 

Scribe
debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age


kiakar wrote:

Debbook: At the age of this group, they have finished school and out in the world. They have alot of choices they can make. It can make their life wonderful or not. We can be what we want to be and the age of this group, they have a great advantage to make it or break it.  In my 20's I had more stamina than I did later on. I felt the world belonged to me, of course you can mess up that feeling, in more ways than one but to me it is a fortunate age. Alot of problems but alot of choices.

 

 

 

 


Yes, but I think for this group of people, they were overwhelmed by their choices. Of course, for many of them, their parents provided the financial security for them to not have to get serious about their life. which can be fine for a while. But not for Lil and Tuck. That drove me crazy that they could accept money from her family b/c he was too lazy and childish to get a job. He blew every chance given to him.

A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
"bookmagic418.blogspot.com
Contributor
eileen100
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

I'm wondering if this "fortunate age" is portraying the infamous Gen-Xers. Someone please clue me in. I'm a baby boomer myself, and I find that this novel's stereotype of the group's boomer parents as pot-smoking, liberal-thinking hippies is a far cry from the average 60s person I went to college with. This makes me wonder if the members of the group are being stereotyped as well: as shallow status-seekers who can't seem to make up their minds about anything important.
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

I think I am kind of with you. The time line seemed off or the players were on the wrong stage. I knew a couple of people like that but they would have been the exception and not the rule. Certainly there wouldn't be a group of random parents that were like that who just all also happened to have children who were a bit spoiled. Maybe it is just a stereotype being portrayed.

twj


eileen100 wrote:
I'm wondering if this "fortunate age" is portraying the infamous Gen-Xers. Someone please clue me in. I'm a baby boomer myself, and I find that this novel's stereotype of the group's boomer parents as pot-smoking, liberal-thinking hippies is a far cry from the average 60s person I went to college with. This makes me wonder if the members of the group are being stereotyped as well: as shallow status-seekers who can't seem to make up their minds about anything important.

 

Frequent Contributor
booksJT
Posts: 108
Registered: ‎11-24-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

In Fortunate Age the four have deluded themselves into thinking they have control over the future. They all seemed to not want to follow in their parents footsteps. Sadie is  the one who seems to think that she is  in control of her future. She keeps a secret from her friend Lil that might have changed  her life. Sadie's relationship with Lil  would change after she gets  pregnant. It bothered Lil more than Sadie that she wasn't sure who was the father. Sadie on the other hand wasn't worried she just wanted to have a baby and get married.
Frequent Contributor
GSB65
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎12-06-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age


eileen100 wrote:
I'm wondering if this "fortunate age" is portraying the infamous Gen-Xers. Someone please clue me in. I'm a baby boomer myself, and I find that this novel's stereotype of the group's boomer parents as pot-smoking, liberal-thinking hippies is a far cry from the average 60s person I went to college with. This makes me wonder if the members of the group are being stereotyped as well: as shallow status-seekers who can't seem to make up their minds about anything important.

 

I'm assuming this is the case, though this being my generation, I didn't relate to any of the characters.  "Academia" seems to be such a big part to this story.  Maybe it is just me reading into things, but I really got the feel of them all looking down on others if they didn't go to the right college or didn't strive to get that degree.  Maybe it is not only the when, but the where.  New York life seems to be so much different than Midwest life.  I don't think I could relate.
New User
CLRobins42
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age

I think this is stereotyping Gen X-ers, but specifically grad student Gen X-ers.  As one of these grad student Gen X-ers, I've been able to relate to a certain superiority complex that this group of people has.  It seemed to me that a lot of the grad students I studied with had this same notion that they were not going to fall into the same boring lives with the same mundane concerns as their parents.  (I lump my former self in there too.)

 

Of course, life intervenes, and you leave the warm, coziness of school and discover that lofty ideals don't pay the bills. 

 

I also can't help but view this  story through the lens of hindsight.  The description of Boom Town's offices (flip flops, late starts, bean bag chairs) were all too common when I was looking for my first job.  Anyone who worked in these places was envied.  Of course, when the tech bubble burst, those of us with boring, mundane jobs like our parents still had those boring, mundane jobs and could still afford our rents.  I like that the cultural situation is mimicking the emotional ones of the characters.  You know a bubble is going to burst for these people, the same way the tech bubble was bound to burst.

Contributor
jpock
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age


eileen100 wrote:
I'm wondering if this "fortunate age" is portraying the infamous Gen-Xers. Someone please clue me in. I'm a baby boomer myself, and I find that this novel's stereotype of the group's boomer parents as pot-smoking, liberal-thinking hippies is a far cry from the average 60s person I went to college with. This makes me wonder if the members of the group are being stereotyped as well: as shallow status-seekers who can't seem to make up their minds about anything important.

 

Thank you, Eileen, for saying that.  I'm a part of the generation represented in the novel and I feel that it is very stereotypical toward my generation and previous ones.  It is a little embarassing to think that readers may assume that all of us are like the characters in the book.  I did know some people in college who may have fit the mold of these characters, but they certainly weren't the norm.
Contributor
jpock
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age


GSB65 wrote:

eileen100 wrote:
I'm wondering if this "fortunate age" is portraying the infamous Gen-Xers. Someone please clue me in. I'm a baby boomer myself, and I find that this novel's stereotype of the group's boomer parents as pot-smoking, liberal-thinking hippies is a far cry from the average 60s person I went to college with. This makes me wonder if the members of the group are being stereotyped as well: as shallow status-seekers who can't seem to make up their minds about anything important.

 

I'm assuming this is the case, though this being my generation, I didn't relate to any of the characters.  "Academia" seems to be such a big part to this story.  Maybe it is just me reading into things, but I really got the feel of them all looking down on others if they didn't go to the right college or didn't strive to get that degree.  Maybe it is not only the when, but the where.  New York life seems to be so much different than Midwest life.  I don't think I could relate.

I'm a midwesterner, too, and I found myself wondering if that was why I couldn't get a grasp on these people.  Are we flatland, midwestern folk too practical for all of the silliness that these characters portray?  Hmmm...

Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age


canterbear wrote:

There is a story here, but I feel I am having to weed through all the flashback type memories to find it.

There is so much character switching and not letting the reader in on the process of events that are happening in the current time of the story.

I found myself passing over parts just to get back to the main story, with the main characters.

It really needs to be tightened.

All the "memories" tend to pull us away from the flow of the story.

 It does not seem either strong character driven nor plot driven.

 I really would like more of the story and less of the frills.

 


 

On these discussions - I try to never say anything negative about any author's writing, or story, it's my rule.  But if I am feeling negative, I chock it up to me having a bad day, and read on. But on this one,  I have to agree with all of the above.  In content matter, alone: I couldn't get past the second chapter.  So that ends it for me.
Contributor
onyx9
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎11-23-2008
0 Kudos

Re: The Zeitgeist of the Fortunate Age


jpock wrote:
I'm a midwesterner, too, and I found myself wondering if that was why I couldn't get a grasp on these people.  Are we flatland, midwestern folk too practical for all of the silliness that these characters portray?  Hmmm...

 

Ohhh, thank you all for saying that, I was thinking I was just missing something.  I could somewhat relate to parts of the characters (being of the same generation), but there is a lot of regional stuff that left me scratching my head in wonder. 

 

I agree, th stereotyping makes it difficult to completely connect with any of the characters.

 

Top Kudoed Authors
User Kudos Count
1
1
Users Online
Currently online: 47 members 289 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: