Might Read

From “The End of Irony,” Meghan O’Rourke’s review of Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children in this morning’s NYT Sunday Book Review

“The Emperor’s Children” is, on its surface, a stingingly observant novel about the facades of the chattering class — with its loves, ambitions and petty betrayals — but it is also, more profoundly, about a wholesale collision of values: those of the truth-telling but hypocritical Murray Thwaite, who epitomizes earnest 1960’s liberalism, and the Machiavellian Seeley, who represents postmodernism and its assumption that truth is fungible. The metaphorical pawn in their struggle — a struggle over status — is Bootie Tubb, who is too young to accept that he lives in a world of filigreed self-absorption rather than pragmatic transcendentalism, and who rightly sees Murray’s self-satisfaction for what it is. And so Bootie — poor, clueless Bootie — becomes both the novel’s antihero and its hero, setting out to expose Murray by writing a tell-all article for Seeley’s new magazine.

Based on the lengthy excerpt here, I’m guessing the Messud wrote but did not read this novel, making it a good early draft. I wish she had cleaned it up before release. Ah well, all is beta.

I liked the proximate juxtaposition of “aubergine” with “Aborigines.” More of those and one could forgive the overwhelming turgidity, evidenced in sentences like:

Having spent half an hour putting on her face in front of the grainy mirror of Moira and John’s bathroom, ogling her imperfections and applying vigorous remedial spackle-beneath which her weary, olive-shaped eyes were pouched by bluish bags, the curves of her nostrils oddly red, and her high forehead peeling-she had no intention of revealing to strangers the disintegration beneath her paint.

Posted in Creative Arts, Journalism, Writing
2 comments on “Might Read
  1. Leslie says:

    Someone should have submitted that for the Bulwer-Lytton contest. Yikes! Where was her editor, hiding under the desk?

  2. madame l. says:

    i’m pulling a rueful moue, Doll.
    is that boneless breast of emperor i’m tasting?



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