The wrong story about Trump

She sagged suddenly with terror, imagining what would happen if Donald actually won. Everything would change. Her contentment would crack into pieces. The relentless intrusions into their lives; those horrible media people who never gave Donald any credit would get even worse. She had never questioned Donald’s dreams because they did not collide with her need for peace. Only once, when he was angry about something to do with his TV show, and abruptly decided to leave her and Barron in Paris and go back to New York, she had asked him quietly, “When will it be enough?” She had been rubbing her caviar cream on Barron’s cheeks — he was about 6 then — and Donald ignored her question and said, “Keep doing that and you’ll turn that kid into a sissy.

The New York Times is commissioning short stories about the US election, and that is an except from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s contribution.

A parody of Trump is, I admit, satisfying. Adichie knows what the Times audience wants, and she delivers it well. But as I read the story, I couldn’t help but think that it’s that smugness that makes half the country hate the Times audience and want to vote for a man like Trump.

Adichie has a fantastic book of short stories that skewers Nigerian elites. Wouldn’t a much more skillful, better short story have made us see Trump in a more sympathetic light? The so-called liberals of New York (like me) who push for equal rights with one hand while pushing their kids to private schools with the other. Or support more open borders on principle, failing to mention that it lowers the cost of their house help without threatening their own jobs.

9 thoughts on “The wrong story about Trump

  1. When you move to Hyde Park, you will learn the line about Hyde Park being a neighborhood where blacks and whites stand shoulder to shoulder against the poor. You will meet the U.Chicago people who will tell you about the importance of neighborhood schools so that black kids from more stable homes can set examples for kids from less stable homes, but then, like Obama, put their own darlings in the Lab School. Or they live in mostly wealthy white suburbs, and talk about how bad vouchers would be, because they don’t want poor black kids in their neighborhoods. So much fun.

  2. I think the story presumes readers will have read ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and interpret it in that context, with the same sympathy that Virginia Woolf extended to her own protagonist as the novel progresses. To my mind, “The Arrangements” hints at a tragic interior life beneath Melania’s superficial performance not unlike Clarissa’s. The more fair critique of Adichie’s story is that it cannot stand up independent of its source material.