Thursday, April 5, 2012

Not-That-Much-Shorter Jonathan Franzen

"No major American novelist has led a more privileged life than Wharton did." Exhibit A: she had a secretary type her shit! Silly girl? Doesn't she know that's what wives are for? Unless you're Kerouac and write shit that types itself! And not only that, Wharton was a rich white lady who shared the prejudices of rich white ladies of her time! Unlike every other writer in the American canon who are all perfectly non-racist, non-snobby humanitarians, and migrant workers to boot! But wait, perhaps we could consider that a ladynovelist born in 1862 might have faced some kind of struggle? What could that possibly be? Something that rhymes with -ism and starts with s? No, silly, it's that she was uggo! But she was an uggo and made a bad marriage - which has never happened to a beautiful woman, ever! Marilyn Monroe and Betty Draper married their perfect men and lived happily ever after: true fact! And then she had a passionate affair in her forties, but eww, gross. But sadly, unlike migrant workers, who of course dominate the American canon, so much do Americans "sympathize" with them, no one likes or sympathizes with uggos! Uggo ladies, that is. I mean, duh. Uggo for a male novelist just lends poignancy to the novelist/protagonist's desire for young and non-uggo ladies, who are of course metaphors for life, death, and being seventeen. Nevertheless, definitelynotalady novelist Jonathan Franzen has taken the time to write a few pages about her best novels, and decided that she overcame being a stuck up uggo richlady by writing well about some beautiful but damned ladies. Which was a great way of getting narrative revenge on the beauties! I guess uggo men write so they can fuck beautiful women, and uggo women so they can stick it to them more metaphorically.

Yes, I'm a month or so late on this and many others did a good job of taking him down. (This is probably the best.) Since I became a mom, not only do I fail to sleep when my baby sleeps, or leave the dishes until whenever, I can't give up my habit of trying to read every New Yorker straight through and in order, no matter how much farther I fall behind. Some ladynovelist probably has something interesting to say about what this says about my clinging to an illusion of control over my life, and my refusal to avoid reading things that will annoy me, but she's probably the kind of ladynovelist whose books are on Oprah, and so it probably wouldn't be interesting to the Great American Novelists who write about much more Universal Themes like suburban adultery.

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