Best Thing Having to do with Jonathan Franzen: that Ben Marcus Harper’s essay
This essay by Ben Marcus in which he destroys Franzen’s weird, destructive, dumb war on experimental fiction and William Gaddis. So good, so richly deserved.
Really Very Good: The Corrections
That was a good’un. Grown on me a lot. Seriously. You should check it out.
Pretty Darn Good: The Twenty-Seventh City
I mean, yeah, in some ways it’s the novel of a self-involved young dude writerly type. But the truth is (and a lot of people don’t want to hear this) a lot of great novels have gotten written by self-involved young dude writerly types. Life isn’t fair.
I Actually Barely Remember This One: Strong Motion
I know Franzen has complained that this one is unfairly criticized. I don’t remember enough about it to say. That’s generally not the best sign.
Overpraised and Kind of Obnoxious: Freedom
Overlong. Derivative of itself. I sometimes felt like I could hear Franzen sweating to himself, “I’m the man who wrote The Corrections!” as he wrote it. Probably in a moleskin. While wearing that tweedy blazer of his.
Comprehensively Awful: His Opinions on Books and Novels and Deep Stuff Like That
Let me summarize his essay containing Big Thoughts About The Novel Today, Which Is A Big Topic, “Perchance to Dream“: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
(Yes, he for real named an essay about the future of the novel “Perchance to Dream,” proving once again that we live in the funniest of all possible worlds.)
Like Seriously Maybe the Worst Thing That I’ve Ever Read: “Mr. Difficult”
The woooooooooooorst. Wounded, self-impressed, childish, clumsy, banal when it thinks its being profound, foot-stomping, aggrieved, pretentious, guilty of the sins it thinks it’s indicting, entitled, desperate for approval, disdainful of the tastes of others, utterly safe while pretending to be dangerous, filled with absolute and utter terror at the possibility that some people might derive enjoyment and meaning from something that its author doesn’t like, sanctimonious, obtuse, badly misinformed, pitched against a dead and defenseless writer whose sole crime was not writing books that existed to fan the already towering flame of Jonathan Franzen’s unbearable self-regard, and worst of all, unsympathetic in precisely the worst possible way that any act of writing should be, in that it so thoroughly fails to bother to look for a friendly reading that it twists its authors mind into a great and powerful machine for missing every possible point that does not direct his shambling, awkward, awful essay towards its dumb foregone conclusion. I don’t believe in violence against people, but this essay, itself, deserves a slap across its smug, self-deluded face.
Literally the Worst Thing That Has Ever Existed on Earth: The Tweets You in the Hot Take Crew are Furiously Composing About How Annoying It Is That You Must Share This Great Fertile Globe with Another Book By Jonathan Franzen
I don’t know you. But there is literally nothing in your life you could do that could be a bigger waste of time. Like the Buddha said, set it free.