Welp, Jonathan Franzen’s career might be over. For the love of god, George Saunders, stay sensible. If American literature is going to be ruled by white males, let them at least be respectable and respectful.
“Oh, it was insane, the idea that Kathy [his partner] and I were going to adopt an Iraqi war orphan. The whole idea lasted maybe six weeks,” Franzen explained. “One of the things that had put me in mind of adoption was a sense of alienation from the younger generation. They seemed politically not the way they should be as young people. I thought people were supposed to be idealistic and angry. And they seemed kind of cynical and not very angry. At least not in any way that was accessible to me.”
The funny thing about that is a number of those cynical, calm people are the sort who may look up to Franzen, and the real question here; how does he believe the younger generation should be in a political sense?
This latest moment of Franzen comes from the Guardian.
Good on Henry Finder, for being the best kind of editor, the kind of editor who edits the person they edit for’s life.
It would be easy to look past this foot-in-mouth episode, only a Newsweek article includes a rundown of his bloviated* and/or pretentious behavior that traces back to the beginning of the millennium. While it may be disgruntling to Franzen fans, who work their damnedest to separate the work from its author, like trying to love the child of someone who was convicted of a violent crime–don’t think that’s too much of an outlandish remark, Franzen attempted murder on his career–but Franzen is the Guy in Your MFA without the MFA.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Franzen one day becomes parodied by the coming generations of white, privileged males. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same action wasn’t taken by a underprivileged, white, female, because I think it sounds like a great idea. Feel free to take this as a sort of writing prompt, put your own spin on the idea. You and I can usher in an era where nearly every work of contemporary literature contains a parody of Jonathan Franzen.
- Jonathan Franzen ’81 taught fiction writing at Swarthmore. His students remember it well.
- The Hilarious Hypocrisy of Jonathan Franzen
* = word of the day