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Jessica
Posts: 968
Registered: ‎09-24-2006
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Introduce Yourself

Reply to this message to introduce yourself to the group, and share your first impressions of The Emperor's Children.
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plainjane
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎09-07-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

I read this book several months ago and put it on my list of favorite books. Now, I barely remember what it was about. I always have to read a book twice before really getting into it. So this will be an opportunity. But I thought the book club did not start until October 1. Who is jumping the gun here?

About favorite books, I read in one of the moderator's posts that one of her favorite books is Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. I have read the first volume of the series, but I have never been able to finish the second volume. My favorite book of all times is Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose, followed closely by Theodore Dreser's An American Tragedy.
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hi Plainejane,

Good to see you here. You're right, the clubs do pop up early! Angle of Repose has been on my TBR a long while. I've never been able to pin down what it is that makes a "possible" to-be-read book jump into the active must-read-next stack.

Rachel
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Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hi! I am Laura from the south coast of Maine.

I have heard so many good things about The Emperor's Children and I am eager to start the book and talk with everyone, especially the author, about it.

I can't share a first impression about the book yet, since I am only just about to begin it, but this phrase in the author's welcoming message caught my attention:

...I found I was writing a historical novel rather than a contemporary one, about a time that was gone forever.

I will be keeping that thought in my mind as I read.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hello, I go by IBIS.

I am a voracious reader with a wide-ranging eclectic taste.

I'm currently based in Boston, and was happily surprised to read that Claire Messud lives in my neck of the woods, Somerville, MA. I'm very familiar with Somerville's landmarks--Union Square, Davis Square, Ball Square --although none of them are actually square.

In college, I had a couple of classmates from Watertown, NY. I'd visited Watertown many times, so having Bootie and Murray hail from that small town is a funny coincidence.

I also lived in NYC many years, and the landmarks in the novel resonated with me.
Especially Central Park.

All these coincidences made reading THE EMPEROR's CHILDREN doubly interesting for me.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Popper19
Posts: 199
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

My name is Becky. I'm from Wisconsin. This will be my first Claire Messud book. I am getting ready to curl up on the couch with it as soon as my 3 year old falls asleep. I'm looking forward to a great month of discussion with everyone.
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bobzyeruncle
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎09-25-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hi everyone.

My name's Bob and I've been living in London for the past three years. Originally from Cincinnati, I spent twelve years in New York (including 9/11) before moving over here. I've left the corporate world behind (had put my soul into a lease-to-buy program in the marketing communications/branding world for a decade or so) and am now teaching English and writing fiction.

I was in a B&N book club a year or so ago and really enjoyed the interactions with both readers and the author, and when I saw this one I was intrigued.

Don't know anything about the novel or Ms Messud, so I'm going in on a blank slate ... which is kind of fun.

I'm 3/4 through "Middlemarch" right now (loving it but savoring it as well) and have just finished a re-read of "The Phantom Tollbooth". I pick it up every couple of years when I feel a trip to the Doldrums coming on.

Looking forward to spending the next few weeks with y'all (oh yeah, I lived in New Orleans for a number of years, so I picked up a Southern drawl along the way).

Cheers.
:: :: ::

Bob
www.bobzyeruncle.com
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Walrus
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-28-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

This is fromWalrus. Iam new to computer use and bookclubs, but now that I am a retired physcian living in N.Y.C. I may have more time to correspond. I read usually historical novels about generations of the family or left-over mysteries my husband read first. I majored in science in college in the 1950s. My mother worked at the World Trade when it first opened and my daughter had her wedding at Windows on the World in 1998. Also my son was on aplane from JFK on 9/11 that was due to take off around 9a.m. so for a few hours we did not know where he was. We were lucky that he was lazy and did not leave on an earlier plane from Newark. We had the smell and soot and knew of a young man due to get married in two weeks who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. It was a horrible time and every time I see a beautiful blue cloudless sky, I have to recall that day. Here in N.Y.C. we call it a 9/11 sky. In regard to the book, even though it would seem that everything led up to 9/11,I think the book could have turned out the same without it and perhaps it was a little forced to include 9/11 as it did. Just my opinion- forgive my spelling and typing.
New User
sogo2
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-28-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

I've never joined an online book club before. But I finished reading "The Emperor's Children" a couple weeks ago and the characters and story line have stayed with me. I am an avid reader and I admit to choosing this book by its cover. A thread through my last couple years of reading has been an interest in novels about NYC where I lived for 16 years. I guess I am homesick for my town.

Somewhere about half way into this book I knew the story would somehow lead to the WTC and 9/11. I have to say, like another reader's comments, several of these characters were not likeable people. The society of the city was rather superficially mixed in a gay guy, a wall street drug yuppy gay guy, a PBS producer who begins rather snotty and sort of does a 360 somewhere in the book, a rich and famous man's daughter who is beautiful - smart and blind at the same time, the rich/famous writer, the do gooder wife, the bleak out of town realatives, and the naive college drop out looking for a life.

I really didn't care for Bootie or his problems or solutions....pretty much of a jerk. Why were we supposed to look at him as such a loser I wonder? Murry Twaite is pretty much of a cliche and it's difficult to see into his soul even during his private moments he isn't all there. Is he really superficial and milking the liberal left or brillant and true to his beliefs? I hate that he is a womanizer and squanders the affections of attractive young women. His pursuit of his daughter's best friends makes me a bottom feeder and that he always liquored up indulges his judgement and thoughts. Why he is allowed to continue so indulged bothers me. Why would his family simply allow him to continue so self absorbed? I guess we don't see how much "good" he does to temper such bad behavior. I suppose there are hordes of people out there just like him. The overty well to do of the Twaites is rather difficult to stomach but I've know people at the top of their field or who had some family money who lived like the Twaites in a rambling CPW apartments. Rich, entitled, empowered...and liberal who somehow stood above the throng. I think Murry must be a sterotypical prototype of a one or two writers/journalists of my acquaintance who I considered one of the "good guys" despite their overt wealth. I figured they earned it. Anyhow rather than continue on with my review of the characters of this story....I found the "types" quite believable if not sterotypical. Difficult to say if there would be any other way to go to give a snap shot of NYC in the days leading up to 9/11. I could have known any one of the characters which is, I suppose, a compliment to the reality of the book.
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KathyH
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎11-25-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hello! (Hi Rachel!!!)

I'm Kathy from orange, California. I work in a large church and recently moved from a house (which sold in 2 days!) to a townhouse. My 100 boxes of books are still in the storage unit we're working through.

I love to read, and am anxious to get into my choices for this month and discuss them. My books, including this one, haven't come yet, but B&N shipped them 9/26 so it should be soon.

KathyH
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Oh, Kathy! 100 boxes? I bet that in one of them is that history of bookshelves by Petroski.

Rachel
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Pat_T
Posts: 27
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

My name is Pat and I live in southern Arizona. I was born and grew up in NYC, so I look forward to visiting some familiar places in this book and seeing what and how things have changed. My first impressions of the book are just getting to know the characters and trying to decide how I feel about them.
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Cathykinn
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

I'm Cathy from Poughkeepsie, NY. I am on page 23 of our book and would rather be reading it now than writing this! Books don't usually start so fast for me, but I was hooked from the beginning.
Author
ClaireMessud
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎09-11-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hi, everybody -- I'm the author, & as IBIS points out, I live in Somerville, MA, which is on the outskirts of Boston. Unlike some of you, I haven't actually ever lived in New York, although I've spent a lot of time there over the years, staying with friends who do, or did, live there. I grew up in Connecticut, too, in commuterville, so spent my adolescence traipsing into town.

I'm looking forward to the discussion, & hope I can answer at least some of your questions. I know that some readers, for instance, don't find the characters very likeable; which is every reader's prerogative -- these fictional people don't always behave very well. But nor do most of us, or at least not all the time. I don't believe their behaviour is actually any worse than that of many real people (& a lot better than that of a lot of politicians, for heaven's sake!): I don't think any of us would look too good if our innermost dark & petty & selfish thoughts were laid bare for everyone to see.

I actually love these characters, in spite of all their flaws. (I would do, though, wouldn't I? I lived with them for 4 years.) I often keep in mind a line that Chekhov wrote to his brother in a letter (& I don't have the quotation in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing): "It's not my job to tell you that horse thieves are bad people. It is my job to tell you what this horse thief is like." That's how I see my job, too: I just set out to observe my characters as closely & clearly as I can, with as much complexity & reality as I can give them; and then it's up to you to have whatever feelings about them you care to have. If someone can be bothered to dislike them, my hope is that they have at least some reality for that person...

We're all flawed, after all. If you look around at your siblings, and cousins, and friends, I think you'll probably find people who are as mottled, or motley, a bunch as these guys. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone, no?

Whether you like the characters personally or not, I hope you find them of interest; and not untrue. As I say, observing is my job; passing judgement on them I leave to everybody else...


Learn more about
The Emperor's Children
.
Frequent Contributor
KathyH
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎11-25-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

No, those kind of books scare me! I did get a LONG email attachment from Curtis' wife about cataloguing a library - it definitely was TMI! She teaches Library Science at LSU.

KathyH
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Pat_T
Posts: 27
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself



Claire Messud wrote:
... these fictional people don't always behave very well. But nor do most of us, or at least not all the time. I don't believe their behavior is actually any worse than that of many real people (& a lot better than that of a lot of politicians, for heaven's sake!): I don't think any of us would look too good if our innermost dark & petty & selfish thoughts were laid bare for everyone to see.

Hi Claire, and thank you for a good reminder about the characters. I found myself being really hard on Bootie until I remembered some of the irresponsible and thoughtless things I'd done at that age. It's easier for me to sympathize with his mother because of her age and gender, but she's not perfect either. The ages of early 20s and early 30s are times of transition for everyone, and I guess that is something we'll see unfold in this story.

I've found some of my favorite books are those that originally upset me. They get me thinking, are more challenging, and take me out of my comfort zone. I think The Emperor's Children will be that kind of book.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself


rkubie wrote{ed.}: ...Angle of Repose has been on my TBR a long while. I've never been able to pin down what it is that makes a "possible" to-be-read book jump into the active must-read-next stack.

Rachel
Rachel -- do keep Angle on your TBR pile and I encourage letting it reach the top or jump to that must-read-next stack. I thoroughly enjoyed it -- one of the very few books that prompted me to find another by the same author.

I am looking forward to the discussion here. I read The Emperor's Children several months ago. I first started working in NYC at an age just slightly older than the characters and now have a son of about that age navigating the city, so I was drawn to the description. Know that I lay aside more books w/o finishing than I read, but this was not one of them, even though my experience says many other stories about young people tackling the City exist than those we encounter here. Claire Messud has put together an interesting, recognizable, although not necessarily simpatico, group of characters.

As for the new reader who posted about the vocabulary, I shall remind him/her of m-w.com. It is a wonderful reading companion -- and if it doesn't suffice, the unabridged version is a nice luxury.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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debbaker
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎12-02-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

Hi everyone, I live in New Jersey but am a southerner by birth. I am currently reading The Emperor's Children. Can't wait to talk about it.

I teach High School English---Seniors.

Deb
Deb
booknook516.blogspot.com

simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought
william hazlitt
New User
Bernice
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎09-29-2007
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Re: Introduce Yourself

I live in Washington, DC. It took me a while to get into this book, but I stuck with it because my daughter liked (not loved) it. She's a young 20-something New Yorker and Ivy League grad. Beyond that, I saw no parallels between the characters in the book and my daughter and her friends. However, I did not think that Danielle and Marina were overly self-centered - they cared about each other and their friends, and even Booty. And Julius, both of whom I thought were extremely unappealing.

Murray was overdrawn, but not so much so - he was seen mostly through the eyes of the other characters in the book, so we don't know much about what he thought about himself. His wife (a saint!) loves him, his daughter loves him.

I think we need to remember that most this book takes place before 9-11,and all of us were a lot more flighty and innocent and perhaps self-absorbed.
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Katelyn
Posts: 311
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Introduce Yourself

[ Edited ]
Hi,
I'm Katelyn. I am an engineer by profession, but more of a literary / artist type by temperament. I am interested in books that explore the complexity of our identities and intersubjectivity. This book fits in nicely with my interests. It presents interesting surfaces and very precise descriptions (amazingly so!) that allude to the radical solitude within and the heartbreak and sadness even the very privileged are a hair's breath away from -- the vulnerability that threads through the very fabric of our lives no matter how wealthy or seemingly self-confident someone is or how much they try to insulate themselves with their own sense of superiority. I am enjoying hearing about the characters adventures/misadventures and the interesting ways they connect or fail to connect. Both the characters understandings and misunderstanding of each other are interesting!

I like all the characters despite (or perhaps because of) their so called personality flaws -- beauty shines through them also as they strive to find their places in the world.

Message Edited by Katelyn on 10-09-2007 08:48 PM
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