Wednesday, October 7

I don’t really care about Jonathan Franzen, in a way that probably functions as a microcosm of all the ways I usually fail to care about literary fiction as a genre. Life is short, the available writing is well-nigh infinite, and there is so much else to be interested in one way or another. It’s even possible that, once or twice, I have defended some notion Franzen has expressed in prose as perhaps not entirely worthy of the overheated loathing his stylings tend to generate in some quarters of the internet, but that’s the sum total of my involvement to date, and in general I’m happy to keep it that way.

Still, sometimes an author or work you don’t have the energy to care about at all directly affords the pleasure of reading a really good bad review.

To wit, Barrett Brown on Purity:

There’s an old joke, which holds that in heaven, the cooks are French, the cops are English, and the engineers are German; whereas in hell, the cooks are English, the cops are German, and the engineers are French. We live in a sort of silly cultural hell where the columns are composed by Thomas Friedman, the novels are written by Jonathan Franzen, the debate is framed by CNN, and the fact-checking is done by no one.