Rona Jaffe; Patti Abbott
Yesterday The Daily Beast did a piece on the books that get featured on Mad Men. You know, to lend further timeliness to the show. Good idea.
The first choice was Atlas Shrugged. The more I learn about Ayn Rand and her cult followers I think she should have been burned at the stake. And used her acolytes as kindling. And yes I do mean you Allan Greenspan--your very Randian economic theories went a long way to putting us where we are today. I believe he was one of her lovers (shudder).
The second choice was Rona Jaffe's The Best of Everything. Rona who? you ask. Well, she was actually an example of something we don't have any more--the solid middle-brow novelist reporting on what she sees around her. Sartre's goal has come true. Only high art and low art matter he said. We n longer have the JP Marquands and the Phillip Wylies. Not all the middle-brows were dull.
Rona Jaffe was a fine storyteller and a witty if melancholy social observer. She wrote Mad Men many decades before the show appeared. The Daily Beast quotes the opening of Everything, Jaffe's take on working girls in NYC circa 1960:
"You see them every morning at a quarter to nine, rushing out of the maw of the subway tunnel, filing out of Grand Central Station, crossing Lexington and Park and Madison and Fifth avenues, the hundreds and hundreds of girls. Some of them look eager and some them look resentful, and some of them look as if they haven't left their morning beds yet."
Jaffe was a real writer. I automatically bought each of her novels. There wasn't a bad one in the lot. Here's a brief bio from Wikipedia:
"Jaffe wrote her first book, The Best of Everything, while working as an associate editor at Fawcett Publications in the 1950s. Published in 1958, it was later made into a movie, starring Joan Crawford. The book has been described as distinctly "pre-women's liberation" in the way it depicts women in the working world. Critic Camille Paglia noted in 2004 that the book and popular HBO series Sex and the City had much in common with Jaffe's novel in that the characters, who have similar lifestyles, are both "very much at the mercy of cads."
"During the 1960s, in addition to writing more novels, she was hired by Helen Gurley Brown to write cultural pieces for Cosmopolitan with a "Sex and the Single Girl" slant."
Ed here: You'll note she worked for Fawcett. I believe she may have for for Gold Medal at one time. Maybe George Tuttle knows.
You know my post last night about the difference between storytellers and wordsmiths? I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that I was wrong. I didn't really answer the question implicit in the distinction. I simply stated my preferences. So I apologize to Patti. I also should have noted that Patti was quoting Kate Wilhelm. Wilhelm was the one who made the distinction.