Saturday, October 2, 2010
As friends or readers of mine know, I do not make this move: that of supporting or promoting something highly critical of an artist, especially a novelist. But this is not about just Franzen, it is about us. We are a problematic generation. One with gaping, transmission sized defects and no tools nor hands to operate the tools even if we had the tools, to fix them. I am presently compiling the struggles of living with a specific sect of our generation, an awful and unworthy-of-life group, into a paper no one will read. I will post it nonetheless, very soon. In the meantime, as an epigraph, this is from B.R. Myers' "Smaller Than Life." It is a review and a critique of the popular novelist Jonathan Franzen and his latest work, Freedom. (From the 0ctober 2010 the Atlantic)
Franzen does not take his story very seriously, but the irony is indiscriminate and directionless; he hints at no frame of reference from which we are to judge his prose critically. Nor are we to imagine that a fool or semiliterate is addressing us. The same narrator who gives us "sucked" and "very into" also deploys compound adjectives, bursts of journalese, and long if syntactically crude sentences. An idiosyncratic mix? Far from it. We find the same insecure style on The Daily Show and in the blogosphere; we overhear it on the subway. It is the style of all who think highly enough of their own brains to worry about being thought "elitist," not one of the gang. The reassuring vulgarity follows the flight of pseudo-eloquence as the night the day. Like the rest of these people, Franzen should relax.