Posts Tagged: jonathan franzen

Kids Books All Grown-Up

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…like Franzen’s novels, the Berenstain Bear books might meander, reveling in details alternately informative and irrelevant, but ultimately they’re straightforward tales about family. (Also, as a friend pointed out to me recently, JFran sort of looks like a Berenstain Bear. This can’t be coincidental.)

At The Millions, Edan Lepucki compares children’s books to their grown-up counterparts.

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Michel Tournier 250

Michel Tournier and the Novel of Ideas

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Do novels think? ...more

Justifying the Template

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Too many stories about mopey suburbanites. Too many well-off white people. A surfeit of descriptions, a paucity of action. Too much privileging of prose for the sake of prose, too little openness to rougher energies. And those endings?

At the New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen writes about “the New Yorker story” as a genre that emerged in the fifties from the inkwells of Cheever et al., with all its well-educated white male melancholy, and the regional variations from the likes of Welty and Nabokov, all beaming with affluent brilliance.

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Neil Gaiman Versus China

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The Guardian reports that Neil Gaiman has added his name to a letter urging China’s president Xi Jinping to release dissident writers “languishing in jail for the crime of expressing their opinions.” In addition to Gaiman, several other famed authors, including Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Eagan, have contributed to the effort, calling for “immediate steps to defend and protect the rights of all Chinese citizens to communicate and access information freely.”

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Notable NYC: 9/19–9/25

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Saturday 9/19: Jami Attenberg, Lauren Groff, Alice Sola Kim, Sara Novic, Chinelo Okparanta, and Julia Pierpont join Mellow Pages Library Summer Vacation for a blowout bookend event. Silent Barn, 2 p.m., Free.

Marie Buck, Laura Elrick, Luke McMullan, and Rachel Warriner are hosted by Sophie Seita for reading of assorted poetry.

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Mad Max

Rewrite, Reboot, Remix

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Rewriting the classics has become a stale and risk-averse strategy. But that shouldn’t spoil the fun of our larger culture of remixing. ...more

keretEtgar (credit) Yanai Yechiel

The Rumpus Interview with Etgar Keret

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Writer Etgar Keret talks about his new memoir The Seven Good Years, the early criticism he faced as a writer, and the surreal that is always waiting. ...more

Living in the Republic

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The church on Siegfeldstrasse was open to anyone who embarrassed the Republic, and Andreas Wolf was so much of an embarrassment that he actually resided there, in the basement of the rectory, but unlike the others—the true Christian believers, the friends of the Earth, the misfits who defended human rights or didn’t want to fight in World War III—he was no less an embarrassment to himself.

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Irony Genius Vs. Realism Hero

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If Franzen is our genius realist, and DFW our genius postmodernist — how might they meld irony and sincerity?

In an excerpt over at Salon from his new book, Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life, Eric G. Wilson talks irony, realism, postmodernism, David Foster Wallace, and Jonathan Franzen.

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Save the Birds: A Rumpus Roundup

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Jonathan Franzen is an avid bird lover, as anyone who read Freedom might have guessed.

Two weeks ago, Franzen wrote a piece for the New Yorker that, among other things, condemned the Audubon Society for focusing too much on climate change and not enough on conservation, the society’s original mission.

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Purity Forthcoming

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Jonathan Franzen will release another sweeping narrative titled Purity in September of next year, to the edification of serious intellectuals nationwide. While Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux president Jonathan Galassi promises a “multigenerational American epic” that will deal with the ambitious subject matter Franzen is known for, the novel’s “mythic undertone” may be an interesting departure from his trademark social realism.

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Lost Language Explored

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The literature of Alzheimer’s is a cavern unexplored, but Stefan Merrill Block does his best for the New Yorker:

Nearly every novel I’ve read that attempts to depict the internal experience of Alzheimer’s also attempts to fit the disease’s retrogenic symptoms to one sort of sentimental trope: a reckoning with a repressed or unacknowledged truth that must come before acceptance is possible.

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Literature at the Ritz-Carlton

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At The Millions, Tracy O’Neill deconstructs the Ritz-Carlton’s new “Six Word Wows” ad campaign. The hotel chain calls for guests to describe their stay in six words or less, using the hashtag #RCMemories, and claims to be ““Paying Homage to a Classic Ernest Hemingway Line.” O’Neill frames her essay with Thomas Frank’s assertion that, since the mid-90s, corporations have targeted consumers by playing up their nonconformity, creating the “Culture Trust: a corporate America that deploys the sensibilities of counterculture for profit.” However, O’Neill goes a step further, wondering if the campaign works, perhaps, because it gives patrons “an authorial role” and allows them to describe what they see as their extraordinary vacations.

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Privilege vs. Privilege

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In an excerpt from her book The Shelf, Phyllis Rose illustrates the systematic dismissal of women writers through the imagined figure of Prospero’s Daughter: wealthy and educated yet burdened by the demands of a family life whose quotidian challenges, having monopolized her time, become central concerns in her work.

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Word of the Day: Ucalegon

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(n.) a neighbor whose house is on fire; from the Ancient Greek character Ucalegon, an Elder of Troy whose house was set on fire by the Achaeans when they invaded the city.

Accomack is a small county that looked half-gutted even before the fire started, where love and fire could combine to transform two ordinary people’s lives into an epic romance.

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