Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is Jonathan Franzen's narrative recreated from a spreadsheet?

Probably no one alive is a better novelist than Jonathan Franzen, and this is frustrating because his novels are awful, excellent but awful, books you read quickly and remember ponderously, books of exhaustive craft and yet a weird, spiraling cluelessness about the data they exhaustively collate. They analyze the wave frequency but don’t hear the sound. They are full of people who talk and act exactly as you imagine such people would talk and act in real life; everyone in them is forever buying the right brand of granola bar or having believable thoughts about their mother or fantasizing in a particularly characteristic way about fucking on a hotel-room air conditioner. And yet they don’t feel like real life. They feel like real life irritably recreated from a spreadsheet, by someone who is a genius at reading spreadsheets.  Whether a novel ought to feel like real life is of course a separate question. Many novels that I love don’t, but those novels aren’t trying to, and as far as I can tell, Franzen’s are.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A writer's fear

I’m always afraid, as a writer, that the reader is going to quit reading at any paragraph, so I feel like if the language isn’t there, if the dialogue isn’t right, if there isn’t development—if I’m not giving the reader a constant stream of candy, in one form or another, they’re just going to abandon me. That’s my great fear.

--Adam Johnson

via

Search This Blog

Loading...

My Blog List