Claire Messud Considers the Privileged: Notes on “A Dream Life”

A Dream Life

I will eventually forgive myself for not reading The Emperor’s Children the moment an advance reading copy landed in my lap all those years ago. At the time I dismissed it and did the same with Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad. Why? When the publishing world tells me it’s great, I pause. What is “great” these days? Post pandemic (numbers are going up and do enough of us care?) post truth, post whatever? Fiction has been front and center of late, as the public refuses to believe truth, fact, or the nose on their face. When A Dream Life landed in my inbox I was intrigued (I also broke one of my cardinal rules, to never read a book on a device, in this case my phone). My heart lifted! Here was my chance at redemption for failing to get on the Claire Messud bus all those years ago. I eventually did read The Emperor’s Children and had to apologize to the person who pushed it on me. Like A Visit From The Goon Squad, it’s an important novel, searing, topical, and resonating. I refuse to use the word “interesting” to describe these two books. Can’t we get more creative than that? If anyone cares to revisit the last twenty years in the literary world, you will be hard pressed to find two books that are more important to the conversation about life in New York City than The Emperor’s Children and Ms. Egan’s gem. 

Continue Reading