Friday, September 24, 2010

My take on the Franzen Flap of 2010

Forgive the lapse of posts recently, but I just had my second child and life's been, um, busy.  Hardly enough time to read, let alone write!  But I have been meaning for weeks now to weigh in on the fuss about Jonathan Franzen and his new book.

To recap, Jonathan Franzen published a new book this summer and landed not only 2 NYT book reviews but the cover of Time as well.  Then Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult got lots of press for protesting.

My take?  I am firmly on their side.  My reaction to seeing the cover, even before the #franzenfreude started, was "WTF, why does this dude get the cover of  Time??". 

I'm pretty tired of literary fiction by men getting all the attention.  Case in point: nearly every book blog I read this summer gushed about One Day by David Nicholls.  I got very tired of the pandering, and eventually angry, because I read it and HATED it.  I thought the characters, particularly the male protagonist, were downright unlikeable.  And other than a few comic scenes, the novel was dull, dull, dull - with a total cop-out of an ending.  But everyone else was giving him the blog equivalent of a blow job.

Frankly, One Day is a pale imitation of a women's fiction novel, written by a man.  It's a quasi-romance.  It tries to get into the characters' heads.  And in my opinion failed miserably.  (I'll be honest - I'm not a big fan of Nick Hornby, either.)

And you know damn well that if One Day had been written by a woman... it would NEVER have gotten so much attention.  I think that's what makes me the maddest.

1 comment:

Laura Matson Hahn said...

The Franzen debate is worthy. But I was also wondering what you thought about the book. I gave it a go - read until the last 100 pages or so and then just trashed it. What is the big fuss about him? The book was awful, IMHO.
Regarding your other commentary -- if ONE DAY had been written by a woman, would it even have been published. Nicholos Spark is the one I really cross swords with. Hornby at least has a male point of view. Sparks thinks the romantic pablum he writes IS how a woman thinks. Like your site. (connect from My Mother Stuttered)