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4.22.2009

have you read this too?




So I finally finished The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. It took me ages and ages because I couldn't quite get into it. Drawn to it at the bookstore because of it's description as, "[a] brilliantly observed novel of fate and fortune--about the intersections in the lives of three friends, now on the cusp of their thirties, making their way--and not--in New York City," the book came with nothing but glowing reviews. It was even selected as A New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year. All that being said, I didn't like it. Not at all. I was overwhelmed by it's pervading sense of--oh, I'm not even sure--apathy, maybe? Selfishness? A shallowness parading as grandeur? I never felt fully embraced by the book, it was rather as if I watched from afar as partially formed characters lived out tedious events. The last few chapters of the book dealt with September 11 and for a brief, glittering moment I thought the pervading sense I got from the book up until then was perhaps skillfully set up in order to give that event an even greater weight--a greater meaning. But in this I felt let down as well.

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think?

And any suggestions as to what I should read next...

Any ideas for a good first book for my book club? Should I choose one of my all time favorites to share, Beach Music or Lords of Discipline?


PS: my lovely little NYC apartment now has ants.
I hate them. My roommate is not bothered at all.
But they're concentrated in my room (at the front of the apartment).
Are they a product of Spring?
What am I to do--a few I wouldn't mind, but suddenly they seem to 
be everywhere (i feel like such a girl right now).

19 comments:

MMW said...

Ms. Meg, I read the book after the Times gave its list of top 100 books of the year. And I felt the same as you. Quite self-indulgent. My 30-something friends and I didn't quite behave that way... Although we didn't live in NYC either. My fave part about the book is the cover photo. Very nice.

Next read - oh please try Animal Vegetable Miracle. It's what I read after ...Emperor's Children... and such a refreshing contrast.

BTW, LOVE your blog and YES, Ned follows me around too - since I was in junior high.

Diana said...

Oh i must read this book now!

Hmmm for ants in such a small place is to wipe everything down. they are sticking around and you don't want to give them any reason to.

good luck!

Diana said...

ha, yes, but it sounds so sex in the city-ish! plus anything new york fascinates me especially in detail! ^_^

Lauren said...

I read this book and had a very similar experience. It was too hoity-toity. It thought too highly of itself. I was glad when it was through. You should read The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle. It's her first novel and it's really exceptional.

Anonymous said...

As for the ants---
try cucumber peels. Just leave them around the window.

If that doesn/t work, get some "Taro" at Duane Reed or Walgreens. It's a sticky substance. You put out a small dot on a piece of paper and they go away. It works.

Krysta said...

I have not read this book but I had a similar experience with "The Time Traveller's Wife" where everyone raved about it and I could not get through it, I found it so boring and uninspired.

As for suggestions,
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer
both are sort of light reads but charming and funny and insightful.

sheila said...

sorry, haven't read the book. Looks good though.
Try placing dryer sheets around your apartment for your ant problem. My mother-in-law says it works, but I'm not sure of it. I've never had a problem that bad to try it out. BUT, if you do try it, let me know how it goes.

sheila said...

as in- place the sheets in the little pathways of the ant herd.

Signorina Svizzera said...

Eek about the ants! I suggest ant traps (the little black square things). I had ants in my old apartment and the minute you dropped even a peanut they would swarm out (so gross!). Then I got those traps and they decreased dramatically.

JulieD said...

One of my favorite books that I've read...well, ever...is The History of Love. Really, it's fantastic. And it's not a sappy romance like the name might imply. It's really thought-provoking and has a really conflated plot. Anyways, that's my suggestion. It's great for book clubs, too.

Tina Tarnoff said...

I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows - I might have already recommended this book to you, or not, can't remember, I was so blown away by it that for I while I kept raving about it to everybody. Or, The Bone Man of Benares by Terry Tarnoff - it is written by my husband so one might say that I am partial to it, but even if he wasn't my husband it would be one of the best books I have ever read.

whitney said...

Oh Lords of Discipline is one of my all time favorites too--it's the only book I've actually read multiple times! Thank you Kinkaid for making this book required summer reading.

Hanako66 said...

ewwww, I hate ants! I haven't had time to devote to a book lately so I have been reading chic lit, fun books. I love the idea of you starting a book club!

Thao said...

I so dislike being disappointed by a book--it always feels like a betrayal somehow. Now I know what not to read. :) I'm reading Charles Baxter's A Feast of Love and despite the corny title, I am really enjoying it. (Also, I'm sorry about the ants! I have an irrational fear of them.)

*hay* said...

Stranger to your blog, but thought i'd shard the title "on beauty" by zadie smith
i really like her writing style, it's very beautiful.

Micaela said...

"The Time Traveler's Wife." I was blown away by the originality of it. Plus, it made me fall in love with the name Henry.

If you do ever get to it, please please let me know what you think. Just promise me that you'll at least pick it up and read the back the VERY next time you're at the book store. Promise me! :)

Gabby said...

Ha! I almost bought that book this weekend, now I'm kinda glad I didn't! I hate being disappointed in a book.

I just finished The Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood. It was AMAZING. I highly recommend it!

Jessica said...

First time commenter, but I had to say that I felt the same exact way about this book. It's full of really shallow, malicious people competing viciously for shreds of fame and self-importance. Made me happy I don't live in NYC, but as you show, not eveyone there is like that! :)

Hermione said...

Oh, I so agree.

I picked this up at the airport, tempted by the raving reviews and the building on the park - the New York essence of it.

I was so disappointed. It felt like Danielle Steel at times (I've never ever read Danielle Steel, but in my mind, this came close), and I'm not even going to mention the ending.

I was so surprised by the raving reviews - and then found out that the writer is married to someone at NY Times. Not to be a horrible person, but something tells me that that plays a part in it.

I don't know, it was entertaining at first, and it did capture some of New York's self centeredness, but all in all, NO!