Thursday, 3 October 2013

Book 1/65-The Emperor's Children, Claire Messud

I was expecting 'The Emperor's Children' to be a pretty emotional book, bearing in mind that it's set in New York in the Autumn of 2001. I figured we'd be introduced to some characters, get a feel for their lives and then see how they were all changed after the events of the 11th September or something along those sort of lines. It was actually nothing like that at all-for starters you have to read through 500 pages before 9/11 is mentioned at all, and even then it's almost a none-event, a background minutiae in the lives of the book's characters that almost has no impact on them at all.
So what is this book about then? Well...just people. Boring, ordinary, unremarkable people. It's a family and their somewhat spoiled grown up daughter, her grown up friends and their relationships and a cousin who doesn't fit in with their swanky lifestyle. If someone asked me to point out the key events from the story, I would struggle because it's basically 600 pages of nothing at all happening.
The second book I read for this challenge-The Secret History-was also about 600 pages long and, although I didn't really like the characters in it, there was definitely something happening in the story, something I could find and go "There, that's the most important thing that happens in this book". This is not the case with 'The Emperor's Children'. Again, the characters are fairly un-likeable, but they're also quite boring-nothing significant seems to happen to any of them (in my opinion). It's as if someone took a cheap gossip mag and made it into a 600 page book, and I just really couldn't bring myself to care about what was going on. Also I couldn't get on with the writing style at all-Messud has a habit of putting such long winded and rambling sentences in the middle of others with hyphens or brackets that by the time you've read them you've forgotten the start of the sentence and have to go back and read it again.

I dunno, maybe I just didn't 'get' 'The Emperor's Children', maybe it's just not the right sort of book for me-the host of good reviews printed on the cover certainly seem to suggest that not everyone found it as dull and uninteresting as I did, but I am certainly a very long way from agreeing that it's a "masterpiece".
If you like your stories to be about family feuds, about infidelity, about relationships, about enduring friendships and about running away from yourself to become someone new-then you should probably give this book a chance, or at least read it for yourself to see if you agree with me.
If, like me, however, you prefer a book with a bit more substance to it, a book with a definite beginning, middle and end, a book that centres around an event rather than some relationships, then you should probably skip it because you probably won't enjoy it either.

Memorable Quote " It's narcissism, to love a wall and resent it for not loving you back. It's perversity. Love is mutual, it flourishes in reciprocity. You can't have real love without a return of affection-otherwise it's just obsession, and projection. It's childish." -The Fourth of July (3), Pg 373

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Awesome Things VIII

This was actually meant to go up yesterday so it was part of September's blogs but I sort of forgot a bit so I'm posting it today instead. So there.
Yes it's time again to appreciate some more of life's little awesome things just because they make you smile and make your day in the smallest of ways.

-Holding a new, empty notebook and imagining the possibilities
Following my previous post I thought this was particularly relevant. There's just something about purchasing a new notebook, when the pages are all pristine and perfect-not curling because you've written on them in biro-that's awesome. When it's just a blank slate before you fill it with ideas and dreams and thoughts and to-do lists to remind you to wash your pants. It's almost exciting-you don't know exactly what it will hold but one day it'll be full of your life and go on the shelf with the rest-you can enjoy its newness, its possibilities for only a short time.

-Taking a chance on the weather and it turning out well
When you decide to leave the umbrella at home and it doesn't rain or you forget your jumper but it turns out warm enough not to need it anyway. Excellent.

-Getting something nice in the post
I don't think this one's just me-everyone loves getting things through their letterbox that aren't just bills or junk mail, don't they? Whether it's that nice thing you bought yourself that's finally been delivered or a silly postcard/letter from a friend, getting something through your letterbox that's actually meant specifically for you to enjoy it is always always wonderful.

Flirting is excellent. Flirting can be so many different things, but all of them are fun-flirting with someone just because that's the type of friendship you have, knowing it means nothing on both sides, flirting with someone you kinda fancy but know nothing will happen about it for whatever reason, flirting with someone in a way that you hope implies "I really want to take off your clothes and do things to you" and hoping that that's what their flirting also means-it's all good clean (mostly) fun. It makes you feel good on a fairly basic level and I heartily encourage it.

-Singing along to all the words with a friend when one of "your" songs comes on
Ah, is there a better feeling than belting out all the words to a song with a good friend as you drive along? I mean you don't have to be driving along even, just the act of singing the songs you've grown up with, or make jokes about, or just love because it reminds you of good times together is brilliant. It never fails to make you feel good, and we could all use a little of that sometimes.

There we go then, another 5 tiny little awesome things


Previous instalments:  OneTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenAutumnal Edition