Posts Tagged: jonathan franzen

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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The Midwest is the Future of American Literature

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Flavorwire’s Jason Diamond insists that writers can eschew New York City in favor of greener pastures, offering a comprehensive defense of Franzen country:

A closer look at the literary map of the 50 states reveals that even if the publishing industry writ large is situated in New York and Los Angeles, some of the most exciting things going on in American literature are taking place in the middle of the country.

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What’s Sexist and What’s Not

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Novelist Jennifer Weiner has long been an outspoken critic of literary sexism, vocally demanding respect for herself and other female authors and pushing back against stodgy heavyweights like Jonathan Franzen.

But how much dismissal of Weiner can be attributed to contempt for women’s issues, and how much can be attributed to the fact that her books often have predictable plot arcs and formulaic happy endings?

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Notable SF: 12/9–12/15

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Monday 12/9: Author Jonathan Franzen comes to the Bookshop Santa Cruz to discuss and sign copies of his new book,The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus. Free, 7 p.m.

Tuesday 12/10: InsideStorytime THE FIX features Joe Clifford (Junkie Love), Zarina Zabrisky (We, Monsters), Roy Mash (Buyer’s Remorse), Emily Meg Weinstein (Lake Celeste or the Joy of Sex), and Sean Labrador y Manzano, with MC James Warner (All Her Father’s Guns).

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The Death (and Rebirth?) of the Book Review

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Why review books? At The Awl, Jane Hu takes a historical approach to answering that question.

Quoting writers from Alexander Pope to Jonathan Franzen, Hu argues that the apparently ever-progressing “death” of the book review is perhaps a more nuanced process than it first appears:

“Perhaps a large problem in the decline of good criticism is that readers no longer know how, or where, to find critics, and, more importantly, how to define what makes it Good.”

Hu’s essay is in some aspects a continuation of the narrative established in Elizabeth Gumport’s 2011 essay “Against Reviews” for N+1, an impassioned argument for a complete rethinking of the form and its uses.

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Much Ado About Franzen

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Over the past couple weeks, Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker essay on Edith Wharton has incited a number of responses.

At The Daily Beast, Marina Budhos examines why Franzen took such a “tortuous and offensive back door route” to find sympathy for Wharton, instead of “exploring empathy” for an author who, she argues, faced similar writerly preoccupations as Franzen himself.

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The DFW-Franzen Saga

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In this Awl piece, Michelle Dean weighs in on Jonathan Franzen’s declaration that David Foster Wallace “fabricated at least part of—and potentially a large part of—his nonfiction pieces.” The article looks back at Wallace’s statements about his nonfiction, and discusses both “the Franzen paradox” and the dynamics of the “Wallace-Franzen friendship.”

“In a faint echo of the (frequently too academic) debate about the distinction between fiction and non-fiction, the question of whether or not either of these statements are empirically true, as descriptions of Wallace, strikes me as beside the point.

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Percival Everett on Franzen, Sexism and The Great American Novel

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“I do not believe that apparent authoritative literary voices of validation would ever make such a grand claim about a novel written by a woman.  I say this because I believe there are many novels by women that are about the same sort of world as presented in Freedom.  Sadly, the culture usually calls these books domestic or family sagas.  Are the novels of Anne Tyler, Marilynne Robinson and Mona Simpson any less white and middle “American” than Franzen”

At VIDA, author Percival Everett explores the big assumptions and unpsoken prejudices behind Great American Novels (like Freedom.) (Via)

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In Defense Of Negative Reviews

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“A book arrives that in the opinion of the reviewer outrages a principle of politics or philosophy or history or art, and will lead its readers into error or illusion, and will coarsen discourse or experience—for such are the stakes in books, the power of books, and the real nihilism is to deny it.”

Leon Wieseltier at The New Republic defends his own frequently “negative” criticism, specifically of Franzen’s Freedom.

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Notable New York, This Week 9/8 – 9/12

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This week Stephen Elliott is in town for the paperback release of The Adderall Diaries, Jonathan Franzen celebrates Freedom, Tao Lin brings Dakota Fanning and Haley Joel Osment to BookCourt, Fashion takes you out on the town, Gigantic and Open City are home sweet home, and Nara premieres at the Asia Society.

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The Prejudice Against Literary Fiction

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“It is not the job of critics or awards to simply reaffirm the bestseller, boxoffice, and Billboard lists. Quite the contrary, isn’t it their job to seek out the work that isn’t getting the attention it deserves? Isn’t it a public service, really, to highlight work that doesn’t have the marketing behind it?”

At The Faster Times, Lincoln Michel ponders the heated divide between “commercial” fiction and “literary” fiction in light of the praise recently garnered by Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

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