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....more
Posts Tagged: jonathan franzen
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.
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....more
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....more
(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.
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.
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?...more
If you enjoyed Timothy Leo Taranto’s first and second rounds of literary puns, check out these new illustrations of such essential authors as Juneau Díaz and Karen Mussel...more
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)....more
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....more
Bibliophysicists now speculate that no less than three parallel versions of Jonathan Franzen can coexist at any given moment, and the variant, some say, could be much higher. This assortment of Franzens—and how readers interpret them—can make an impartial reading of his work problematic....more
When I was younger and lonelier and knew more about other people than I did about myself, I thought...more
At Salon, David Daley argues that “Jonathan Franzen and the Web will never get along.” Daly points us to an anecdote in Franzen’s “On Autobiographical Fiction” in contending that both the author and his critics are misinterpreting and talking past each other....more
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....more
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....more
When you’re playing host for your literary idol, there is a lot of opportunity for panic and embarrassment.
Wendy MacLeod recounts Jonathan Franzen’s visit to Kenyon, recalling her anticipatory anxieties, how to avoid sending out stalker-ish vibes, and what it’s like to be acutely aware of dining room acoustics....more
Jonathan Franzen dispensed some optimistic guidance in a NY Times Op-Ed essay, an adaptation of his recent commencement speech to Kenyon graduates.
He covers techno-consumerism, the environmentalist anger that once confined him to his room and his bird-watching revelation that assuaged his real life qualms....more
Ellen Meeropol’s debut novel tackles bizarre cult rituals, political violence, drug abuse, infanticide, and the Klan....more
“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”...more
Two recent books by Asian American writers confront stereotypes while exploring the rich interiority of the characters’ lives....more
This week in New York Colm Tólbín brings Henry James to us, Furnace Press Decomposes, Jonathan Franzen returns home, Sex workers share their family tales, Myla Goldberg gets crafty, Classic cocktails, classic film, Comic and Graphics Fest goes to church, poetry touches on wartime, and Free in ART....more
“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....more
Update: SOLD OUT. SORRY...more
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....more
“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....more