Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Mr. Difficult" and the Feminists

Freddie has a great post about the predictable reactions to Jonathan Franzen's new book:
The internet does not like Jonathan Franzen. Jonathan Franzen has a new book coming out. And so it follows, as the night the day, that we’re in for a lot of pro forma Franzen hate pieces. They’ll all be written in the same tired idiom, the worn out snark that you’ve been consuming by the gallon since 2004. They’ll make the same rote claims about privilege and publishing. They’ll play to an audience that is made up largely of people who are expected to dislike Jonathan Franzen and who in fact take disliking Jonathan Franzen as part and parcel of the social culture to which they belong. In other words, there will be no challenge to their presumed readership. These pieces won’t be bad because they’re mean, or because they degrade our capacity for empathy, or because they’re cheap. None of those usual complaints. No, it’ll be bad because they’re boring. Worn out. We’ve all heard it ten thousand times. Whatever about that vocabulary once seemed fresh and cutting now seems rote and predictable. We’re dealing with a class of young writers for whom that style has been the assumed language of the internet since they started reading online, which means that many of them use it not because they want to but because they figure that’s just what you do.
I like Jonathan Franzen. I consider The Corrections among my favorite books. I also really liked Freedom, but aging Gen-x angst is like candy for me. I'm not reading any of the reviews of his new book, especially those coming from the feminist-cum-leftist blog world because I know exactly what they'll say. Someone will invariable accuse him of having "lady issues" or being part of a system that deems men's writing important while relegating women who mine similar themes to the chick lit ghetto. The latter is a valid point, but Franzen is an easy whipping boy, and one who requires little reading to make that judgment.