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Claire Messud

Forfatter af The Emperor's Children

17+ Works 6,798 Members 275 Reviews 6 Favorited

Om forfatteren

Claire Messud is the author of six works of fiction. A recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.

Omfatter også følgende navne: Claire Messud, Claire Messud

Image credit: reading at National Book Festival By Slowking4 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62180023

Værker af Claire Messud

The Emperor's Children (2006) 3,514 eksemplarer
The Woman Upstairs (2013) 1,622 eksemplarer
The Burning Girl (2017) 553 eksemplarer
The Last Life (1999) 531 eksemplarer
When the World Was Steady (1995) 215 eksemplarer
The Hunters (2001) 211 eksemplarer
A Dream Life (2022) 39 eksemplarer
The Professor's History (2006) 14 eksemplarer
A Simple Tale (2015) 5 eksemplarer
Sista livet (2001) 2 eksemplarer
This Strange Eventful History (2024) 2 eksemplarer
Messud Claire 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

Soning (2001) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver26,279 eksemplarer
To seriøse damer : roman (1943) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver789 eksemplarer
The Ball (1930) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver604 eksemplarer
Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books (2011) — Bidragyder — 378 eksemplarer
David Golder / The Ball / Snow in Autumn / The Courilof Affair (2008) — Introduktion — 290 eksemplarer
Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame (2003) — Bidragyder — 279 eksemplarer
Granta 66: Truth and Lies (1999) — Bidragyder — 161 eksemplarer
The Use of Man (1976) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver149 eksemplarer
Granta 51: Big Men (1995) — Bidragyder — 117 eksemplarer
Granta 118: Exit Strategies (2012) — Bidragyder — 83 eksemplarer
Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers (2019) — Bidragyder — 65 eksemplarer
Writers on writing (2002) — Bidragyder — 29 eksemplarer

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Could not get through this. Just did not grab me. I have a feeling it is a wonderful novel and I was just not in the right mindset for it.
--
Bookcrossed to a friend in Berkeley, CA.
 
Markeret
Kiri | 103 andre anmeldelser | Dec 24, 2023 |
One of the central tragedies of adulthood is that virtually no one reaches the childhood potential promised to them. There's simply only a handful of spots to truly be a protagonist in the national narrative. It was a blow to me to learn that I could become a great physician and a pretty decent scientist, but that it's extremely unlikely that I'll ever be known outside of my field. And it's particularly hard because once you make it to a field, you get to rub shoulders with the true giants and feel how little you are.

And that, in a nutshell, is the story of Nora Elridge. Looking at her life in her 30's and realizing that while she's a great teacher and an OK artist, she'll never make a name for herself and other people will always be better and more famous than her. And Nora sacrifices being the protagonist in her own, tiny little story, for being part of something grander. To pretend that this is a novel narrative would be foolish -- and indeed, Messud acknowledges that by directly quoting the famous Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock ("No, am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; am an attendant lord, one that will do...") -- but it's such a central narrative to humanity that I think it's worth revisiting.

What makes Messud's take on this tale particularly noteworthy are two things: 1) Messud's command of the English language, which is simply incomparable. She never weighs the story down with prose, but each sentence is precise and beautiful. And 2) telling this narrative from a female lens.

I've learned that women are being asked to do too much, so even when I feel like I'm doing a good job at work, I feel like I'm not being the protagonist in my parenting story (since parenting is supposed to be a narrative of lovingly hand-crafted...everything, every moment); when I feel like I'm doing a good job parenting, I feel like I'm not being the protagonist in the canonical scientist story, where science is in all-consuming passion; and when I'm doing either, I feel like I'm losing the plot of the story of being a part of a community of friends and neighbors, or being a leftist who has time during business hours to call my senators or being a book hobbyist, or or or. And yet, I find very few books that resonate with this tension the way that The Woman Upstairs does.

I also think that reading the reviews for this book on goodreads is a pretty incisive tale on why this book is needed: women who don't make it to becoming the protagonist are expected to be Nice above all things. That, in fact, is Messud's point: women have to either be a central protagonist, or they have to be the Woman Upstairs, who follows gender norms, and is nice and helpful and has no personality or drive. It's biting and true. And yet, many reviewers here seem to fault Nora Elridge for not constraining herself to that role -- quite exemplary of how this is a conversation that needs to happen.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
settingshadow | 118 andre anmeldelser | Aug 19, 2023 |
The opening chapter in Messud’s The Woman Upstairs sets an angry, bleak tone: the narrator, Nora Eldridge, is very, very angry, dropping the word “fuck” like so much birdseed in the course of a rant that is as engaging to read as it is excruciating to realize the tenuous state of this character’s mindset as she begins to set down a record of what transpired to make her so hurt, jaded, and on the brink of despair. And I certainly have no issue with the word “fuck”: it’s just bizarre how often it’s used in the opening chapter given how little it’s used later on, something I consider below with regard to how the narrative never completely circles back around in a logical or satisfying manner.

To her credit, Messud is very acute with the psychological portrait she paints of Nora: there is always a danger an author encounters when employing the first-person narrative, especially when there is such a skewed and utterly biased narrator as is the case here. As “the woman upstairs”—“the quiet woman at the end of the third-floor hallway, whose trash is always tidy, who smiles brightly in the stairwell with a cheerful greeting, and who, from behind closed doors, never makes a sound”—Nora is the “other woman”: not the pretty one, not the talented one, not the exceptional one, but the other one. Messud’s slow pacing allows the reader to access Nora’s thought processes and to identify with her feelings of isolation, marginalization, and political and social unrest. The other woman is, after all, “completely invisible”: “The question now is how to work it, how to use that invisibility, to make it burn.”

However, Messud never succeeds at bringing Nora back to the angry state she is in when we first encounter her, nor does Nora convey how “to make it burn” when it comes to her invisibility; instead, The Woman Upstairs is a novel that simmers, boils, and almost, almost bubbles to an eruptive crescendo, but yet never completely gets there. And this could well be Messud’s intent: but given the anger in the opening chapters, Nora’s character does not come full circle to embrace that initial mental state, a state that is supposedly après her Freudian family romance with the Shihads—an encounter that defamiliarizes her unwitting embrace of the conceptual “woman upstairs” figure and problematizes her world at the level of desire, family, artistry, and even civilian grief.

One of the most interesting aspects, but also the most cumbersome, is Messud’s analysis of race relations after 9/11, but at times this feels a bit exploitative, e.g., “the Norwegian maple in its crimson-tinged ball gown, ruffled agains the spotless 9/11 sky” makes little sense as this is taking place in 2004, hence the exploitative use of some 9/11 references scattered throughout. And although Nora is obviously very discontent with an America falling into the hands of George W. Bush yet again—and while the conflict in the Middle East, Lebanon in particular, is always underneath the narrative surface—the political aspect to Nora’s unrest is never fully fleshed out, resulting in a melodrama instead of something more holistic. Messud does hint at the complex matrix of interrelated conflicts at work in Nora as indicative of a larger social (and gendered) malaise, but the sense of liberal guilt and privilege Nora finds herself ensconced with, while suggested to be one of the underlying causes of her perverse insertion into the Shahids’ lives (and vice versa), is never considered to the extent that it should if Messud means to make this a broader attack on an American mindset so isolated from the world at large.

Still, this is a compelling and intriguing read, one that brought to mind Zoë Heller’s Notes on a Scandal almost right from the beginning. Whereas Messud is more interested in race relations and Heller in class relations, and obviously the former with America while the latter tackles Britain, both authors are working with a similar “spinster narrative” coupled with a Freudian family romance, narrated by wonderfully deranged and yet highly incisive and relatable narrators—if we choose to see our own psychological flaws in them, that is. For an example of how this is done in a marvelously unflawed way that renders the psychological as much the focus as an underlying social commentary, I would strongly direct people to read Heller’s novel without any hesitation.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
proustitute | 118 andre anmeldelser | Apr 2, 2023 |
 
Markeret
Baukis | 103 andre anmeldelser | Mar 30, 2023 |

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Statistikker

Værker
17
Also by
14
Medlemmer
6,798
Popularitet
#3,595
Vurdering
3.8
Anmeldelser
275
ISBN
164
Sprog
12
Udvalgt
6

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