concrete and barbed wire
Check the New York Times... nope, world hasn't blown up yet. Back to weblogs.
Yesterday in workshop Frank gave a lengthy disquisition on sex and writing, culminating in the surreal scene of a visiting writers' panel some years ago, where Norman Mailer and John Updike apparently got into a public argument over whether the female genitalia were best described as "cunt" or "pussy." Mailer favored the former, Updike the latter.
When Jonathan Franzen was here last month he was asked, inevitably, about Oprah's book club, and his subsequent comments made it fairly clear what he thinks of the average Oprah book and the average Oprah reader. "Hoo boy," I thought at the time, "he's going to get it." And see: Oprah has formally uninvited him to her show. "Jonathan Franzen will not be on the Oprah Winfrey show," sez the press release, "because he is seemingly uncomfortable and conflicted about being chosen as a book club selection. It is never my intention to make anyone uncomfortable or cause anyone conflict."
The thing is, I don't think The Corrections was that good. It had some nice passages and clever connections and so on, but it felt to me like a watered-down and more accessible version of the large, heady DeLillo-type pomo conspiracy novel. Maybe that explains its popular success; they're selling it at Target now, next to Tom Clancy's Op Center. I know, who's being elitist now. But the book's even more fundamental problems are that a) it tries to turn formal tricks while still telling a fairly traditional family story, and as a result it suffers from that schizoid split of intention that plagues all but the very best of the brainy white-boy books; and b) it comes far too close far too often to outright contempt for its characters. The mother in particular was treated pretty mercilessly.
I've been complaining too much this week. Tomorrow I will talk about things I like.