Friday, February 26, 2010

Five favorite books of New York stories

Joanna Smith Rakoff is the author of the novel A Fortunate Age, which was a New York Times Editors' Pick, a winner of the Elle Readers' Prize, a selection of Barnes and Noble's First Look Book Club, an IndieNext pick, and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. As a journalist and critic, she's written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, the Boston Globe, Vogue, Time Out New York, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other newspapers and magazines. Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, Kenyon Review, and other journals.

She named her five favorite books of New York stories for C.M. Mayo's "Madam Mayo" blog. One title on the list:
The White Rose, Jean Hanff Korelitz.

I’ve written elsewhere about Korelitz’s latest novel, Admission, which is perhaps my favorite novel of 2009. Like Admission, The White Rose is a novel of manners, set primarily on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—and its eastern and northern colonies, the Hamptons and the Berkshires—among the wealthy German Jews and the nouveau riche who aspire to their social status. Though it’s based on the Strauss opera, Der Rosenkavalier, it reads more like a contemporary gloss on Wharton: A childless Columbia professor, Marian Kahn, at 48 has fallen crashingly—- and, she fears, absurdly—- in love with her best friend’s son, 26-year-old Oliver, who has also becomes—- through a series of absurdities—- the object of her closeted cousin Barton’s affections. Complications ensue. Korelitz perfectly captures the fabric of a particular segment of the city and a very specific sort of class yearning.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff.

--Marshal Zeringue