TEC ~ Week 1; Chapters 1 – 6

September 10, 2007 at 8:35 pm | Posted in TEC Week 1, The Emperor's Children | 3 Comments

With the exception of “Car Talk,” I tend to find NPR on the stuffy, if not stuck up, side.  I never listened to it until I moved to Virginia.  My husband listens to the news and “Fresh Air” on an almost daily basis.  Over the years, as my politics has moved toward the center, I’ve not minded listening to the news programs as much.  I still feel like it is aimed at the upper crust despite and/or over educated being called our nation’s public radio.  It is from this source that I first heard of The Emperor’s Children.  After reading the first six chapters, I’m beginning to think that my instincts are correct.  I’m crossing my fingers that b*babbler’s enjoying this one!

When I first began reading, I couldn’t really concentrate.  This is most definitely attributed to the double eye infection I was developing.  Still, Claire Messud’s writing style is frankly hard for me to follow.  I’m not used to having to reread sentences so often.  To me, they are choppy and needlessly lengthy.  I have started scanning pages, anxiously counting the number of paired em dashes.  I have nothing against the em dash, either.  I just don’t like the way that Messud has been using them.

I’m going to cut this book some slack, though.  This is only the beginning of the book and she had her main characters to introduce.  I can’t say that I like any of them other than Danielle – I think.  That being said, I could completely relate with Marina’s home alone paranoia.  I can just think about the theme music to “Unsolved Mysteries” and freak myself out.  I would have called my token single, gam male friend over myself.  Perhaps as the story picks up the em dashes will work…

Your thoughts?



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  1. Ok, am I enjoying this one?

    Honestly, it’s too soon to tell. The writing, while good, seems to strive desperately to be literary. The sentences that are needlessly long, the (oftentimes) pointless exposition (did we really need to know that the doorman was a fat Serb?), the excessive use of the comma, and the em dash (as noted by Literate Housewife) all point to an author striving to be seen as a Very Serious Writer.

    That said, the characters so far are somewhat intriguing, if not a little clichéd. The morally defunct older man, chasing after young pretty women? Check. The dilettante gay man in search of something? Check. The female documentary producer striving to air programs of Deep Meaning? Check.

    So, while I’m not a huge fan of taking fifty pages to define the characters (as there has been no plot yet), and a quick peek ahead seems to show that the next chapters is still character development, I’m going to give the book a chance. I am hopeful that the story will eventually prove so fascinating that it will overwhelm the writing style. I am also hopeful that the characters can rise above their clichéd beginnings and become more multi-dimensional.

    In summary, I’m reserving judgment.

  2. I have almost finished my reading for week 2. Things have gotten more interesting and in those places the writing seems easier, less literary. There are still portions where the em dash flourishes. I think I’m finally starting to see peak at the plot.

  3. […] less character development in this installment.  The plot points that we were looking for during week 1 have started to take shape similarly to the way an eye chart […]

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