Jonathan Franzen Stands Corrected
When a media war erupts between tolerant, diverse, future-oriented progressives and reactionary mossbacks clinging mindlessly to tradition and the past, you will find me with the fuddy-duddies every time. I’m a one-man right-wing Abraham Lincoln Brigade, ready to defend or advance the cause at any time or place. I will even rush to the side of Jonathan Franzen, though I’m sure he wouldn’t want me there. And I’ll agree to call him a curmudgeon, though I know he’s no such thing. People should marvel at the depth of my devotion.
Franzen is that oddest of ducks: a novelist with serious literary ambitions who is also rich and face-famous. When he made the cover of Time, for example, he was the first writer to do so in nearly 15 years. His two most recent novels, The Corrections and Freedom, were sprawling works that curled their way into the erogenous zones of every professional book reviewer in the country and tickled them without mercy. For people who care about the life of letters—that subculture of earnest middlebrows who subscribe to the New Yorker, pore over McSweeney’s, and look forward each morning to Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac” on NPR—Franzen looms large. His out-of-town lectures can draw audiences numbering in the thousands; he holds press conferences when he travels abroad. And as a man in his exalted position must, he holds all the correct opinions on political and cultural matters. Except one.
About the Author
Andrew Ferguson, who appears monthly in this space, is the author of Crazy U, now out in paperback and on the Kindle.