The Believer // “Jonathan Franzen is the Man”
Please see my essay “Jonathan Franzen is the Man” in the Sept. issue of The Believer, where they ran it as a letter to the editor.
Spent some time with the latest issue of The Believer which mostly confirmed my sense that they don’t cut as deeply as the folks over at n+1. One of the best things in it is a long letter from an Andrew Ervin taking Jonathan Franzen to task for his denigration of difficulty (in the person of William H. Gaddis in an essay Franzen wrote called “Mr. Difficult,” published in his book How To Be Alone) which is an attack on art itself in the Adornian sense: “Contrary to what Franzen would lead us to believe, Gaddis was right: Not-art participates in things as they are and endorses the dominant discourse—which Paul Ricoeur calls “the practical field” but for the purposes of this letter I will refer to as The Man.” That’s The Believer at its best, bringing serious and adventurous thought down to earth without clipping its wings.
Busy with allegory (allegorically busy?) but I wanted to point to the particularly fine new issue of Harper’s—so good I might resubscribe. […] [A]nd of course Ben Marcus’ skewering of Status-conscious Contract man Jonathan Franzen (currently excerpted on the Harper’s webpage), a useful corollary to Andrew Ervin’s long letter to The Believer on the very same subject last month.