Worth Your Time: Caitlin Macy's "Spoiled"

There are plenty of status-conscious, self deluded characters in Caitlin Macy's story collection "Spoiled," but Liz, the protagonist in a piece called "Annabel's Mother," is the standout. A stay-at-home wife of a banker, Liz gathers daily with other well-to-do moms, kids and nannies in the battleground of the gated park near her apartment. She's just enough of an outsider to note the local customs: "Even if you had had a maid, you wouldn't have called her a maid, but rather, a cleaning woman, or, at the limit, a housekeeper. The same was true if you had a decorator: You referred to her as 'this friend of mine who's great with color'." Conflicted about her privilege, Liz tries to perform a charity for one of the nannies—but when an actual tragedy occurs in the nanny's family, Liz finds the drama dreary: "Once I found out that no one had died, I didn't really feel like commiserating with her and being late."

"Spoiled" could have read like a dated, prerecession peek at the luxe-stroller set. But Macy has a gift for revealing characters who remain blind to themselves. Like Liz, who ignores all the warning signs of impending doom. Only hers is emotional, not financial, and not easily fixed.

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