Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: Book Report

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Book Report

Once again it's been a while since I've written. Work is really hectic right now and the last time I sat down to write a book review, I just didn't have it in me. But here's a go at it:

Emporer's Children by Claire Messud

I've read Messud last two novels and she's definately a skilled wordsmith and storyteller. If you keep up with these things, then I don't need to tell you that this book has gotten a LOT of press, so you probably don't need to read my review of the book since there are literally about a dozen reviews out there and available right now in the press. However, I will say that I related to the generation she's writing about. Her first novel set in the United States, she explores the generation of children born in the late 60s and early 70s. Most of us are children of successful people who overcame a lot to be who they are--and if not, we were at least raised with the idea that we could be and do anything we wanted. The freedom of the 70s, the extravagance and materialism of the 80s and the opportunities of the 90s all laid at our feet. I related to the pressure to be "somebody" and the sometimes impotence in the face of that perceived pressure. I related to the failure, the self-destruction, and also the hard work. The children of the generation that changed everything but was impotent to change their own children or themselves.
This is a story well told. In fact, I believe she's the only living writer that can pull in the 9/11 tragedy and have any nuance or sensitivity, that is, make it work. There is a line in this late part of the novel that so indelibly marks that time period: "nothing will ever be the same." And yet, it is. As we knew it would be in time. Now, I wasn't in New York during this crises nor have I visited the site--and I don't mean to diminish the experiences of actual survivors and families of those who died, of course their lives are irrevocably changed--however, life went on and continues to go on. At the time of 9/11 I found the rhetoric of "nothing will ever be the same" unbelievable, and yet, there is a sense of gravity in the air.
So maybe I've been wrong. Maybe nothing will ever be the same. We shall see.


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