Saturday, August 26, 2006

Apparently I now belong to an iconic cohort.

According to this NYT review, The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

"is a masterly comedy of manners — an astute and poignant evocation of hobnobbing glitterati in the months before and immediately following Sept. 11.

"“The Emperor’s Children” entwines the stories of Danielle Minkoff, Marina Thwaite and Julius Clarke, who met at Brown University and came to New York in the early 1990’s, giddy with the parochial entitlement of expensively educated young Americans. Each expected to do something important and each, at 30, is still struggling to make something of him- or herself."

Well, as an early-90s Brown alum who was 30 on 9/11, who had at that time only recently stopped living in New York half the year, and who worked in an intellectual profession and had a number of friends who worked closer to the publishing/ writing/ cultural commentary/ media worlds descibed, I can't say I really recognize the stereotypes in play, other than as stereotypes.

"The most pragmatic of the three (she has Midwestern roots), Danielle has a job as a producer of television documentaries, but her skills exceed the demands of her job, and she finds herself doing stories about liposuction. Julius, a gay half-Vietnamese transplant from a small town near Detroit, is a freelance critic and flibbertigibbet who has failed to live up to his collegiate precocity. He has written no books, has found no steady work and despises the “bourgeois regularity” required to hold down an office job. Marina, a “celebrated” beauty and the daughter of the legendary journalist and liberal opinion-maker Murray Thwaite, has been struggling for years to finish a book that will reveal how children’s fashions reflect “complex and profound truths” about our culture. In their way, these three embody the different methods by which American privilege is accrued and idly sustained."

Danielle is barely evocative of anyone I know, and Julius and Marina not at all. Maybe I ran in the wrong circles, but I tended to know Brown alumnae who, by 30, had, well, held jobs and made some early inroads on careers, gotten advanced degrees or gotten married or otherwise established themselves a bit more firmly in the world. I suppose there were people I knew of whose parents would subsidize a decade of flibbertigibbetting, but mostly I knew people who, one way or another, had to adjust the long-term career plan around the short-term rent plan.

I'll have a look at the book, which does sound interesting. But it's odd to feel like I belong to a cohort that could evoke a set of associations so utterly unfamiliar to me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I don't typically post about my blogroll, just occasionally tweak it. But I realized today that I'd clicked through to, and quite appreciated even when I disagreed with, a lot of Scott Lemieux posts over the past several months, sometimes without fully processing that "the guy who wrote this excellent post also wrote that other really interesting one I read last week." I finally put that together, and started reading the blog Lemieux shares with two co-bloggers on a regular basis instead of just clicking through to particular posts. So I thought I'd note the addition to the blogroll, for anyone who's even further behind than I was in realizing that Lawyers, Guns, and Money is filled with smart and entertaining stuff.