Save Me the Plums (Reichl) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for SAVE ME THE PLUMS … then take off on your own:

1. What made Ruth Reichl's decision to accept the position of editor-in-chief of her favorite magazine a difficult choice: why was she hesitant to take the job? Why did she end up accepting it?

2. How would you describe the inside world of Conde Naste? Talk, for instance, about the perks of Reichl's job— the country club memberships, hairdressers, and much more. Does it all seem outlandish or just down right wonderful, even enviable?

3. How did Reichl manage to juggle the ever-difficult job of being a working mother? What do you make of her comment that "Children… need you around even if they ignore you. In fact, they need you around so they can ignore you"?

4. There is a good deal of humor in Reichl's memoir. Which episodes delighted you most? Ann Patchett's turtle … or David Foster Wallace's lobster festival? Point to some other incidents you found particularly funny or rich.

5. And the food? Which of the many descriptions made your mouth water?

6. At a book signing, Reichl was confronted by a chef who was fired from his job after her restaurant review talked about his "Mushy sole. Cottonly bread." He was unable to find work ever since, he told her. What do you think about the power a single restaurant critic can wield over the lives of people in the food industry? Fair? Unfair?

7. Talk about the ways that Reichl was able to reinvent Gourmet magazine, all the revisions she made in terms of hiring and firing staff, as well as stylistic changes like reinventing Gourmet's covers. What did you find most impressive about her vision and her management style?

8. After an incident while ordering lunch in France at the onset of the 2008 recession, Reichl tells us, "The more stars in your intinerary, the less likely you are to find the real life of another country." What does she mean? How has she finally come to see the outsized perks of magazine life?

9. Talk about the end of Gourmet and, in Reichl's own words, her "terrible sense of failure." What brought about the magazine's closure?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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