The New York Times Book Review is running a series in which acclaimed authors are asked to write short stories about the American election.
They looked to Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche for her run at the series, and she in true form delivered beautifully.
In a fiction post titled, ‘The Arrangement’, Chimamanda took a run at looking into the personal life of Presidential hopeful Donald Trump through the eyes of his wife Melania.
The story does not hold back as it thrives on subtle characterization and some traits about Trump that the media constantly mines.
It starts simply enough with considerations of floral arrangements by Melania and through just that simple preparation for a dinner that was to take place later that night, Chimamanda gives us a believable story that churns out fictional details on the every day, domestic life of Trump’s family.
Chimamanda sticks to the simple things for this foray, she checks out the dynamics between Melania and the other members of the family; her dislike for Ivanka, her condescension to Tiffany, Trump’s hatred of cellulites, and the day-to-day tricks and intrigues of keeping a man like Trump happy.
She sets all this off brilliantly and subtly, against the rigor of the current election drama.
We find ourselves in familiar territory, when Melania refers to Trump’s tweeting habit and are plunged into deeper thoughts when she contemplates Trump actually winning the election.
Here is an excerpt;
“Melania decided she would order the flowers herself. Donald was too busy now anyway to call Alessandra’s as usual and ask for “something amazing.” Once, in the early years, before she fully understood him, she had asked what his favorite flowers were.
“I use the best florists in the city, they’re terrific,” he replied, and she realized that taste, for him, was something to be determined by somebody else, and then flaunted.
At first, she wished he would not keep asking their guests, “How do you like these great flowers?” and that he would not be so nakedly in need of their praise, but now she felt a small tug of annoyance if a guest did not gush as Donald expected.
The florists were indeed good, their peonies delicate as tissue, even if a little boring, and the interior decorators Donald had brought in — all the top guys used them, he said — were good, too, even if all that gold yellowness bordered on staleness, and so she did not disagree because Donald disliked dissent, and he only wanted the best for them, and she had what she really needed, this luxurious peace.
But today, she would order herself. It was her dinner party to celebrate her parents’ anniversary. Unusual orchids, maybe. Her mother loved uncommon things.
Her Pilates instructor, Janelle, would arrive in half an hour. She had just enough time to order the flowers and complete her morning skin routine. She would use a different florist, she decided, where Donald did not have an account, and pay by herself. Donald might like that; he always liked the small efforts she made.
Do the little things, don’t ask for big things and he will give them to you, her mother advised her, after she first met Donald. She gently patted three different serums on her face and then, with her fingertips, applied an eye cream and sunscreen.
What a bright morning. Summer sunlight raised her spirits. And Tiffany was leaving today. It felt good. The girl had been staying for the past week, and came and went, mostly staying out of her way. Still, it felt good. Yesterday she had taken Tiffany to lunch, so that she could tell Donald that she had taken Tiffany to lunch.
“She adores all my kids, it’s amazing,” Donald once told a reporter — he was happily blind to the strangeness in the air whenever she was with his children.”
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