A Wealth of Inspiration
Sasha is in trouble. In Jenny Jackson's debut novel "Pineapple Street" the thirtysomething has moved to the "fruit district" of the pricey Brooklyn Heights neighborhood in New York City, just below Orange and Cranberry Street, via a seemingly benevolent real estate windfall. Her husband's generationally-wealthy WASP parents have absconded their four-story limestone and left the property to the newlyweds. The caveat being of course, that Sasha's in-laws can drop by anytime, leave all their belongings there, and keep a watchful eye over the former-family home to ensure nothing changes. After all, who would want to remodel their oh-so-nautical decor? In Jackson's comedy of manners, money, and marble countertops, inheritance always comes with strings — and relatives — attached.
A Vice President and Executive Editor at Alfred A. Knopf, Jackson, like her characters, is a resident of Brooklyn Heights and used her downtime during the pandemic to put her observations regarding the borough's less than sympathetic 1% class to use as she penned her first novel.
"When we were all shut down, and we weren't going to parties, and we weren't going out to lunch, and we weren't meeting, I felt this weird, psychic backlog of energy," Jackson said to Salisbury, Conn., based novelist Helen Klein Ross during an author talk at The White Hart Inn, also in Salisbury. "I wanted to make someone laugh, have some harmless gossip, and do the fun, intellectual flirting that you do in the real world as an agent when you're trying to make exciting things happen. Writing 'Pineapple Street' became an act of wish fulfillment."
Jackson's work is part social fantasy — for every nightmare scenario, there is still plenty to envy — and social commentary on the familial grip on wealth. "I think Millennials are in a very unique and strange position. The Baby Boomers are going to be passing down $68 trillion to their children and grandchildren. This is an unprecedented level of inherited wealth," Jackson said. Despite the limitations set by the financial hardships that the majority of the Millennial generation has faced by living through two national recessions during their prime earning years, a select few are set to inherit so much family money that Forbes reported that they will become (by the average, not the median) the richest generation in American history.
"The way tax structures are arranged in America means that these dynastic families are going to be responsible for keeping a good portion of that $68 trillion passed down to their immediate descendants. The scale of the inheritance is brand new. And Millennials have seen income inequality increase in a way the previous generation haven't. They are more versed in the nuances of it. I see people younger than me grappling with questions about wealth disparity that I didn't in my twenties and thirties."