We’re so excited that next Wednesday, November 18, 2015, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Jane Smiley is coming to visit Nashville as part of the Salon@615 series. If you’ve been reading “The Last Hundred Years” trilogy, you’ll be thrilled to know that Golden Age, the third and final volume in the series, delivers just what you’ve been waiting for — a rich, complex conclusion to the storylines developed in Some Luck and Early Warning. If, on the other hand, you haven’t read the first two, you’re in the enviable position of getting to binge-read the entire epic family saga now that all three are available. Either way, lucky you.
If you’re new to the trilogy, here’s a quick summary to catch you up, from BookPage:
Golden Age opens during a 1987 family reunion at the Langdon family farm in Iowa. Gathered are the surviving children and a number of grandchildren of Walter and Rosanna Langdon, the progenitors and subject of the trilogy’s first volume, Some Luck, which began in 1923. By this point, readers know intimately many of these characters and are familiar with the affections and antagonisms that bind and separate parents and children, aunts and uncles, husband and wives, brothers, sisters and cousins. These ups and downs only proliferate as the story unfolds, until this final episode concludes in 2019. A long-alienated husband and wife find a surprising, loving accommodation late in their marriage, for example, and the love-hate relationship of twin brothers Michael, a high-flying venture capitalist, and Richie, a well-intentioned congressman, goes completely off the rails.
As with the previous volumes in the trilogy, Smiley devotes a chapter to each year. With an increasing number of grandchildren and great grandchildren, this requires an astonishing facility for stage management. Smiley makes compelling narrative choices, and Golden Age reverberates with shocks and surprises.
(Want to know more? For an in-depth review, don’t miss “In the Wake of History” from our friends at Chapter16.)
In honor of Smiley’s trip to Nashville next Wednesday, here’s a lightning round Q&A:
The activity you enjoy which is the most different from writing is: Riding. No surprise. But I do write about riding a lot.
If you could tell your 30-year-old self something, you’d say: Stop worrying.
If you could tell your 80-year-old self something, it would be: Eat whatever you want.
The most unusual fan interaction you’ve had on book tour was: A man, not a fan, asked me how I could justify “lying for a living.” I explained the concept of “willing suspension of disbelief.” My husband was ready for him to shoot me.
The creator/performer/writer/actor you’d be most starstruck by if you met: Steve Martin
If you suddenly got 2 free hours, you’d spend them doing: I can’t say until I get the 2 free hours.
Right now, you’re most grateful for: 1. My husband. 2. My horse’s lameness having improved since yesterday. 3. All the children seeming to be in good health and happy.
Right now, you’re most excited about: Going to the UK for a week on my book tour.
The last music you listened to was: Compilation of various artists singing Leonard Cohen songs. “Famous Blue Raincoat,” etc.
Your favorite thing about the real-live bookstore experience: Being simultaneously surrounded by books and readers
The last books you loved reading and/or the books in your to-read stack? Latest books: Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope, The Extraordinary Life of Rebecca West by Lorna Gibb, Nice Work by David Lodge. To read: Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope, The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed
(For more Q&A with Jane Smiley, check out her interview with The Tennessean.)
Read all three: