Friday, July 15, 2011

Frying Franzen

B.R. Myers takes down Jonathan Franzen, and a large related literature, in his Atlantic review of Freedom. This is one of those reviews that is entertaining enough to read even if you had no plans to read the corresponding book. A taster:
One keeps waiting for something that will make these flat characters develop in some way, and finally the Nice Man is struck by a great blow of fate. But rather than write his way through it, Franzen suspends things just before the moment of impact, then resumes Walter’s story six years later—updating us with the glib aside that the event in question “had effectively ended his life.” A writer’s got to know his limitations, but this stratagem is clumsy enough to make one want to laugh for the first time in the book. It certainly beats the part where a wedding ring is retrieved from a bowl of feces.

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