Episode 47: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
“It’s a different story depending on where you start," Julia, our narrator, tells us, "who’s good, who’s bad, what it all means. Each of us shapes our stories so they make sense of who we think we are. I can begin when Cassie and I were best friends; or I can begin when we weren’t anymore; or I can begin at the dark end and tell it all backward." Depending on where you start, this is the story of a friendship that unravels, or the story of what it is to move from girlhood into womanhood, or the story of what it means to try to save someone. And always, no matter where you start, it's the story of what it is to tell a story, the story of the power and the limits of narrative, the story of how stories can excuse us or condemn us or redeem us.
Host Cyd Oppenheimer talks with author Claire Messud about coming of age ("I was reminded of how central bafflement is to that experience"); her purposeful choice to leave so many questions unanswered ("the writers I love and admire the most write into the openness"); and how we tell stories to make sense of our world -- and yet in doing so, leave so many things out.