Tag Archives: Jonathan Franzen

I’m Baaaaaaaaack

My Munro article is in the can, y’all, and here are the things Imonna do now:

  • Read the fourth Neapolitan novel
  • Write a long think piece about my mixed feelings about Hillary Cl– oh wait Rebecca Traister locked it down already
  • Negotiate at least three cease fires
  • Clean out my car
    • which farts trash every time I open its door
  • Purchase and assemble a standing desk so I can finally be vaguely smug like the toe shoe people
  • Resist calculating the hourly rate of my contract to write an Alice Munro article for a lump sum, thus maturely strolling past the rabbit hole of post-academic rage about labor equity social value of humanities knowledge should I really have quit academia etc etc without even a cursory glance back into said hole wait too late daaaaaaaaaaaaaang
  • Relish having weekends back again again
  • Acknowledge getting paid in love, still, in my current child health policy gig too, is better than getting paid in hate but still not as good as getting paid in adequate dollars
  • Drink beer
  • Read all the reviews of Purity so I can maintain my opinion of Franzen without having to read more than the New Yorker excerpt through which I couldn’t hack the slog
  • Drink wine
    • Cuz Wine is Fine
  • Blog more again
    • For reals
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Crisis at the Bookstore!

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?!?!?

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Twitter is Ruining Language, Part 56831

Listen, Twitter does not need my defense. It is a juggernaut.

And, inversely, N+1 does not need my analytical razor slicing away its fatty cushioning. It is a fine magazine, full of intellectual sustenance for an aspirational cultural elite.

The kind of magazine that a post-academic might read, were she free of professional obligation to keep up with academic journals but anxious to keep up the shine on her burnished noggin.


But this is the “Intellectual Situation”: N+1 has something to say about Twitter. Twitter has nothing to say about N+1.

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Smart Girls (Alice Munro Review)

I finished this book this weekend:

It’s a cycle of stories about Del Jordan, a smartypants in rural Ontario in the 40s and 50s, trying to figure out how to grow up by closely observing the women in her life. The book’s title is a convenient summary of Munro’s entire oeuvre. However, this book feels younger than her later work in some surprising ways.

I love Alice Munro. I love rich stories about smart girls. I love feminism. I loved this book. But it surprised me.

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On Being a Jerkface (Jonathan Franzen)

If you can get past the annoying new Salon design, this is a pretty level-headed review of Jonathan Franzen’s new book of essays.

Level-headed? Is that my greatest compliment? Well, Franzen seems to inspire levels of vitriol usually reserved for actual family members. Or exes. (Ex-lovers, ex-presidents, extreme makeover shows.)

And you know, he brings it upon himself. He publicly hates lots of things that people love: Twitter, e-books, the late capitalist civilization that has fatally encroached upon innocent nature. He wrote a less-than-hagiographic essay about the suicide of his best friend, a writer who is nearly sainted by the smart, passionate people he wants to read his books. He protested his inclusion in Oprah’s book club and then whined about how he was so misunderstood for it.

The New Yorker’s illustration of his infamous essay “Farther Away”

In writing that essay about mourning his best friend and rival, Franzen has deliberately created a discourse comparing him to David Foster Wallace. Which was a dumb idea. He’ll lose on nearly every measure of literary quality. But I’m not interested in comparing them. I like them both, and find both problematic.

Instead, I want to ask what Franzen gets out of being such a dickhead.

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