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Wow, K. You've made me pause to think about a couple of different things here.

First, why should the 9/11 attacks be viewed "as an abrupt ennobling, a kind of Transcendence ex Machina" (by the media, at least)?

How is Messud's use of the attacks "to complicate her characters’ poisoned, private trajectories" also a case study on how to write about public events in fiction?

That friend whom "you can’t stop analyzing and who you also can’t save"...? Save from what? Save how? (I think I know what you mean, though.)

And lastly ... stop trying to save me, anyway! (Just kidding. I'm not so pompous as to think that you're talking about me ... or I'm completely unaware as to what people think about me.)


My experience of the media coverage and even shows such as Conan O'Brien after the attacks was that they were more contemplative, more noble, more serious than before. Even last night on the fifth anniversary, Craig Ferguson wore a black suit and a tie (he doesn't, normally) and talked somberly about a service he attended after 9/11 and that, I think, is as it should be. I wouldn't want "a couple thousand people were killed in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania today and how about that Paris Hilton--I hear she's got a new dog."

What Messud did with 9/11 in The Emperor's Children was interesting as fiction because she didn't diminish the tragedy at all; there are beautiful touches like a firehouse draped in black crepe. But I had thought that 9/11, which hovers over the book like a hawk, might either be treated as a backdrop and occasion for a set piece of essay-like writing or else would make everyone realize how petty their agendas were and become at least temporarily better people. But, and I'm trying not to give anything away, Messud arranges things so that the attacks actually push people deeper into their personal agendas or, as older times would call them, their fates.


Thanks for your review on this book - I chose it to read for the Saturday Review of Books Challenge and just finished it last night. I also was intrigued by the characters. You can read my review here: http://caribousmom.blogharbor.com/blog/_archives/2007/12/13/3407576.html.

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