Look! That book cover is PURTY. Didn’t that book get reviewed in the Times this weekend?
Should I buy it?
I only sold a few widgets at the widgetmart this weekend. I want the book! But how will I know my widget dollars are going where I want them to go?
Thinker for Hire!
Should I buy this book?!?!?
So glad you asked!
You can’t wonder aloud if that book is feminist. Doing so will make you feel like a strident, humorless crone who needs only some chocolate and “Vitamin D” to get back to laughing at beer commercials like a proper american.
Instead, ask yourself these questions:
1. Are there any women characters?
2. Do they move out of the book’s periphery?
3. Does their function in the story move beyond their fuckability/marriageability/vehicle for male characters’ self-realization—either positive (she saved my life!) or negative (she destroyed my life!)
If you answered yes to all those questions: Buy the book! Tell me what you think!
If you answered no to any one of those questions: Buy the book anyway! What do I care? I’m just a strident, humorless crone.
And actually, #3 makes #2 unnecessary.
I can’t really say “yes” to question #3 about David Foster Wallace’s work. There are moments, say, when Joelle is cleaning her apartment in Infinite Jest. But these moments don’t last. In fact, he wrote a whole book devoted to answering NO to #3, over and over and over again.
However, Franzen’s Freedom? Yes. Buy only by dint of the book-within-a-book written by Patty.
This is the only time I’ll ever write this: Score one for Franzen.