Dylan Landis and Joanna Smith Rakoff at New Dominion October 28

On Wednesday, October 28 (5:30 PM), New Dominion Bookshop will host two authors, Dylan Landis, presenting selections from Normal People Don’t Live Like This, and Joanna Smith Rakoff, presenting selections from A Fortunate Age.

Dylan Landis will present selections from her debut “novel-in-stories,”

Normal People Don’t Live Like This

Wednesday, October 28 at 5:30 PM

A novel-in-stories whose female characters struggle with intimacy, sex, drug use and emotional damage in 1970s Manhattan.

At the center of this startling fiction debut is Leah Levinson, a teen at sea in the anonymous ordeals of a middle-class upbringing on the Upper West Side in the 1970s. In ten installments, written from varying perspectives, we witness her uneasy relationships with faster, looser peers — girls she is drawn to but also alienated by.

No one, though, alienates Leah more than her mother, Helen. Estranged yet intertwined, they struggle within the confines of their personalities, unaware of how similar their paths are. Just when they seem at a lonely impasse, each makes an impulsive change — Leah taking a risky trip abroad, Helen renting a secret room in a welfare hotel. Jolted from their old patterns, the two of them independently glimpse the possibility of a more hopeful life.

The characters in Dylan Landis’s debut short story collection, Normal People Don’t Live Like This, are blessedly exquisite. Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

Dylan Landis is a former newspaper reporter who wrote six books on decorating before turning to fiction. She has won a Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange Award and a Writers@Work Fellowship, among other prizes, and was a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives in Washington, DC.

Joanna Smith Rakoff will present selections from her debut novel,

A Fortunate Age

Wednesday, October 28 at 5:30 PM

Like The Group, Mary McCarthy’s classic tale about coming of age in New York, Joanna Smith Rakoff ‘s richly drawn and immensely satisfying first novel details the lives of a group of Oberlin graduates whose ambitions and friendships threaten to unravel as they chase their dreams, shed their youth, and build their lives in Brooklyn during the late 1990s and the turn of the twenty-first century.

There’s Lil, a would-be scholar whose marriage to an egotistical writer initially brings the group back together (and ultimately drives it apart); Beth, who struggles to let go of her old beau Dave, a onetime piano prodigy trapped by his own insecurity; Emily, an actor perpetually on the verge of success — and starvation — who grapples with her jealousy of Tal, whose acting career has taken off. At the center of their orbit is wry, charismatic Sadie Peregrine, who coolly observes her friends’ mistakes but can’t quite manage to avoid making her own. As they begin their careers, marry, and have children, they must navigate the shifting dynamics of their friendships and of the world around them.

Set against the backdrop of the vast economic and political changes of the era — from the decadent age of dot-com millionaires to the sobering post-September 2001 landscape — Smith Rakoff’s deeply affecting characters and incisive social commentary are reminiscent of the great Victorian novels. This brilliant and ambitious debut captures a generation and heralds the arrival of a bold and important new writer.

A Fortunate Age, Joanna Smith Rakoff’s sweeping debut novel about 20-something Oberlin grads living in New York City, may turn out to be the long-awaited book that perfectly captures the ’90s, that time of social and financial excess that set the stage for the current economic collapse. Laurel Maury, National Public Radio

Joanna Smith Rakoff’s novel, A Fortunate Age, was one of Booklist’s Top Ten Debut Novels of 2009, as well as a New York Times Editors’ Pick, a winner of the Elle Readers’ Prize, an IndieNext Pick, a selection of Barnes and Noble’s First Look Book Club. She’s written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, and numerous other publications. Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, and other journals.

%d bloggers like this: