I’ve started reading Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, and so far I like it a lot. The main characters are thirty-year-old college grads, all trying to be intellectual and culturally relevant and important, while living off their parents’ money and avoiding doing any actual work. They kind of know they’re going nowhere, but at the same time, in order to keep going, they have to believe they can save themselves from the fate of having unoriginal 9-to-5 jobs and being like everybody else. Messud’s portrayal is so delicately brutal that it’s possible to believe it’s not brutal at all, but sympathetic and understanding — much the way the protagonists delude themselves into thinking greatness is possible without action (read the above-linked review; it explains it all much better).
Sometimes I think that I, and others I know, are just like these self-important characters in Messud’s book: wanting to make a splash but not really knowing how, and idling in the meantime. I’m reading the book partly as a cautionary tale, to try and learn how not to fall into the same trap (after all, I’m not thirty yet!). If I do gain any insights, I’ll let you know.
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]