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Sociable
Cover of Sociable
Sociable
A Novel
"Extremely funny." —Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
An exuberant comedy of manners set in the world of digital media, Sociable is a deliciously irreverent satire about the capriciousness of internet fame, the bewildering sexual mores of online dating, the preening male ego in the workplace, and about what it means to be young, broke, dumped, and scarily good at creating viral content.

When Elinor Tomlinson moved to New York with a degree in journalism she had visions of writing witty opinion pieces, marrying her journalist boyfriend, and attending glamorous parties with famously perverted writers. Instead, Elinor finds herself nannying for two small children who speak in short, high screams, sleeping on a foam pad in a weird apartment, and attending terrible parties with Harper's interns wearing shapeless smocks and clogs. So when Elinor is offered a job at Journalism.ly, the digital media brainchild of a Silicon Valley celebrity, she jumps at the chance. Sure, her boyfriend is writing long think pieces about the electoral college for a real website while Elinor writes lists about sneakers and people at parties give her pitying glances when she reveals her employer, but at Journalism.ly Elinor discovers her true gift: She has a preternatural ability for writing sharable content. She is an overnight viral sensation! But Elinor's success is not without cost. Elinor's boyfriend dumps her, two male colleagues insist on "mentoring" her, and a piece she writes about her personal life lands her on local television. Destitute, single, and consigned to move to a fifth-floor walkup, Elinor must ask herself: Is this the creative life she dreamed of? Can new love be found on Coffee Meets Bagel? And should she start wearing clogs? With wry humor and sharp intelligence that skewers everyone from grand dame newspaper columnists to content farm overlords to peacoat-wearing lit bros, Sociable is a hilarious tale of one young woman's search for happiness.
"Extremely funny." —Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
An exuberant comedy of manners set in the world of digital media, Sociable is a deliciously irreverent satire about the capriciousness of internet fame, the bewildering sexual mores of online dating, the preening male ego in the workplace, and about what it means to be young, broke, dumped, and scarily good at creating viral content.

When Elinor Tomlinson moved to New York with a degree in journalism she had visions of writing witty opinion pieces, marrying her journalist boyfriend, and attending glamorous parties with famously perverted writers. Instead, Elinor finds herself nannying for two small children who speak in short, high screams, sleeping on a foam pad in a weird apartment, and attending terrible parties with Harper's interns wearing shapeless smocks and clogs. So when Elinor is offered a job at Journalism.ly, the digital media brainchild of a Silicon Valley celebrity, she jumps at the chance. Sure, her boyfriend is writing long think pieces about the electoral college for a real website while Elinor writes lists about sneakers and people at parties give her pitying glances when she reveals her employer, but at Journalism.ly Elinor discovers her true gift: She has a preternatural ability for writing sharable content. She is an overnight viral sensation! But Elinor's success is not without cost. Elinor's boyfriend dumps her, two male colleagues insist on "mentoring" her, and a piece she writes about her personal life lands her on local television. Destitute, single, and consigned to move to a fifth-floor walkup, Elinor must ask herself: Is this the creative life she dreamed of? Can new love be found on Coffee Meets Bagel? And should she start wearing clogs? With wry humor and sharp intelligence that skewers everyone from grand dame newspaper columnists to content farm overlords to peacoat-wearing lit bros, Sociable is a hilarious tale of one young woman's search for happiness.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    Facebook: An article called "15 Images of a Sloth That Will Just Make You Laugh." Comment: "Mike Moriarty [hyperlinked] I feel like you are totally number 7." Elinor posted this at 4:00 p.m. on a Tuesday. It was liked thirty times, mostly by relatives.

    Twitter: 30 tweets. A sample: "This is why Marianne Goodacre is my favorite writer." The link is to a quote about writing being difficult but also rewarding. It was favorited two times by people Elinor didn't really know that well.

    Instagram: 2 pictures. Picture 1: An attenuated, wolfish-­looking animal, a dog. The dog is collapsed on the sidewalk and tied up to a fire hydrant with a yellow nylon leash. Its legs are somewhat contorted on the ground. There is a sepia-­tinged filter on the picture that gives it an oddly flat quality. For example, an irregular blob of gum is somehow in hyperfocus—­the same as the dog. Caption: "Mike saw this lil guy just chilling out near our Sunday brunch spot. #goals." It was liked fifteen times.

    Picture 2: Elinor and her boyfriend (Mike). It's a selfie. They are smiling on what seems to be the Brooklyn Bridge (there are brownstones, industrial water, and cables behind them). Elinor has her arm slung around Mike's neck. She is kissing his cheek. It is a very flattering picture, of Elinor especially. Her jaw looks thin. Caption: "Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge for our anniversary #lovethisguy #brooklynlyfe #bkbridge." It was liked twenty times.

    • • •

    It was midway through the party and everyone was drunk in a professional but sloshing way, when we saw Elinor, hovering near a table, holding her coat. The table had three red bowls on it, filled with identical anemic chips. Elinor took a chip out of one of the bowls and ate it. No one had done something like that during the entire preceding hour.

    We were in a small backyard dotted with the occasional tuft of stodgy, bulbous grass. A Twister tarp lay discarded under a tree, getting dirtier as people stepped on it. Lights with large filaments dotted the railings, which gave the gathering an aesthetic that recalled other parties in the same general milieu, and existing pictures.

    The party was celebrating or mourning the fact that the Newr Report, a news website (www.newrreport.com/news), was going out of business. It was going out of business because it hadn't ever made money. Websites couldn't go on forever in that kind of environment—­but it did go on for a fair bit of time. And when you took it all together, there were twelve years of events collected in some ineffable space somewhere. So it wasn't nothing.

    Elinor twisted a bit of her hair in two fingers. She had been alone near this chip table for a long time and she knew no one at the party. Her coat was so heavy and made out of felt. Mike was gone. Was he in the bathroom, inside the house? He had said he wanted to get a drink. She had already looked at Insta­gram. She had already read an article on her phone. She had already texted two people. She had already been in the proximity of others and not talked to them (it was why she was at the chip table in the first place). How much more could she do?

    A vulpine cat sauntered between Elinor's legs. It had been wandering the party the entire evening. It was Andrew Newr's cat, and as such, it had a kind of notoriety. The cat had an Instagram account, for example, in which it would sometimes travel to Malta or lie curled on a bed. Elinor bent close to the cat and trained her phone on it. The cat immediately sprinted away, to hide under another metal-­legged chip table about ten...
About the Author-
  • REBECCA HARRINGTON is the author of the novel Penelope and the comic essay collection I'll Have What She's Having. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, The New York Times, Elle, NPR.com, and other publications. She lives in New York City.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 1, 2018
    Harrington (Penelope) gleefully skewers digital media and postgraduate working blues with this dark satire of self-absorbed millennials trying to remake journalism and romance. Her cyber coming-of-age tale revolves around Elinor and her college boyfriend, Mike, who live together in a cramped New York City apartment with no stove and a foam pad for a bed while they work toward their dreams of writing about important issues. Mike, who has a leg up—his parents pay his rent and his mom is a famous essayist—scores a writing job at a snarky website. Meanwhile, Elinor, making money as a nanny, winds up at a struggling rival news site, Journalism.ly, where she’s hired to pump up its audience as “viral trends editor” and proves to be a natural. While Elinor refines the art of clickbait, her relationships with Mike and her best friend fall apart. After relieving her heartache with a takedown of Mike online and on TV, Elinor dives into online dating and, unsurprisingly, meets other disaffected millennials with pretentious ambitions. With shrewd observations and biting humor, Harrington paints a bleak picture of a generation relentlessly focused on looking inward—and at their social media status.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2018
    A young woman traverses her 20s and the toxic landscape of New York media in Harrington's (I'll Have What She's Having, 2015, etc.) novel of millennial manners.Well into her tenure in New York City, aspiring journalist Elinor Tomlinson has a job as a nanny, a painfully self-important literary boyfriend from college, and a foam pad that serves as a bed. That is, until her boyfriend's mother--a hotshot essayist who writes incisive columns like "A Mother's Guilt" and "What Gen X Forgot"--hooks her up with a job at Journalism.ly, a BuzzFeed-esque startup, where she's in charge of viral content. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, Mike, is writing Important Think Pieces about Important Topics like waste management for Memo Points Daily while surrounded by small, Virginia Woolf-looking girls with appropriately literary credentials. Mike doesn't have much use for Elinor's new job (Mike has few redeeming characteristics), but Elinor, it turns out, has a gift for writing high-traffic posts, even when she's miserable, which she soon is: Mike unceremoniously dumps her, coming back to their shared hovel only to collect his stuff (including a "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" T-shirt and his Gatorade); Elinor is forced to a "semi-studio" in Queens (shared bathroom, no kitchen). In general, Elinor is drowning in a sea of lackluster men with inexplicable standing; not just Mike or her subsequent online dates, but her two male bosses, who have both magnanimously appointed themselves her "mentor." And yet Elinor, despite these obstacles--principally, being 20-something and a woman in New York--begins, slowly, haltingly, to find a more functional version of herself. No one really says much of anything, thanks to Harrington's preference for mumblecore-style dialogue, nor do the characters particularly transcend their archetypes, but Harrington captures the oppressive narcissism and frustrated ambitions of Elinor's world with nauseating accuracy.Frothy on the surface with teeth underneath.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Sociable
A Novel
Rebecca Harrington
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