October 5, 2010

"A man was arrested after stealing author Jonathan Franzen's glasses from the writer and demanding a ransom of £100,000 ($158,808) at a book launch."

"Police said a helicopter was called to chase the culprit, who jumped into the Serpentine lake in London. The 27-year-old has since been released with no further action being taken and the glasses have been recovered."

A helicopter? I mean, I know Franzen's book — "Freedom" — is considered tremendously important, but... it was a pair of glasses. Why chase the guy with a helicopter?

Is it because those glasses are part of his signature look? Quick! Which one is Franzen?



Without the glasses... he could be... just anybody.

Some book journal editor who was at the scene of the crime, said: "It was frankly quite bizarre. Considering the seriousness of Franzen's work, this is the last thing anyone expected at his book launch."

Considering the seriousness of Franzen's work! I don't understand literary-journalist logic. It's exactly seriousness that inspires absurd prankish tweaking. (If you don't understand my logic, you need to watch a few Marx Brothers movies.)

31 comments:

The Crack Emcee said...

What's "terribly important" about his book? I heard it was good, but not one word sounds unmissable.

Or am I missing something?

Scott M said...

Any thread with a Simpsons reference is automatically considered serious work.

TML said...

Chabon, Franzen, Wolfe...ummmm...McGuane? Mailer? Conroy?

CrankyProfessor said...

And what kind of experienced traveler goes abroad without a backup pair? I mean, things happen!

CrankyProfessor said...

Unless the glasses are Franzen's binky?

Wouldn't surprise me.

Pogo said...

His eyeglasses aren't worth as much as J.D. Salinger’s toilet.

I'm waiting for Sylvia Plath's gas range to come up for sale, myself.

Beth said...

Crack, in a showdown between Oprah and Franzen, I have to root for Oprah. He had a hissy fit when she chose his previous book for her book club. He writes in the High Art Tradition! Daytime TV-watching ladies can't POSSIBLY comprehend his art!

And now, now, this thief has failed to acknowledge the seriousness of his work. What's a guy have to do to get some respect?

Pogo said...

Consider stealing Hemingway's shotgun.

Ann Althouse said...

"What's "terribly important" about his book?"

Don't look at me. I said "considered tremendously important." I just keep seeing his bespectacled face on the cover of magazines.

"His eyeglasses aren't worth as much as J.D. Salinger’s toilet."

Yeah, that's why you don't have to chase the thief with a helicopter. The glasses are only valuable if he tries to sell them as Franzen's. Wait until that happens, then go nab him.

traditionalguy said...

Franzen makes a career of being borne along by events and writing about how powerless we actually are...so this event is a Franzenian Moment if ever there was one. Therefore his work seems terribly important only to self important people.

Anne B. said...

OK, I recognize Tom Wolfe (white suit) and I guess Franzen is the one with the glasses, but who are the other two?

Pogo said...

Just try running from a helicopter while carrying a toilet.

Nearly threw my back out.

Serpentine!...serpentine!!

tim maguire said...

So it's strange that a serious writer was robbed but the whole helicopter thing for a petty thief--that's not strange?

Scott M said...

The glasses are only valuable if he tries to sell them as Franzen's. Wait until that happens, then go nab him.

I'm not convinced this is a viable strategy in a country that allows a clearly illegal alien to be trotted out as a political spoiler without being nabbed on the spot.

Sofa King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sofa King said...

Maybe he got those glasses in Malaysia.

MadisonMan said...

Who hired the guy to steal the glasses so Franzen could get publicity?

Doesn't want to make me read his you-can't-miss-this book, however.

MadisonMan said...

...er Doesn't Make me Want to read the book.

rdkraus said...

Just read the book, which is quite good, if you like that kind of thing; I do.

Would not say he is more serious or important than lots of other writers around now.

A helicopter?

That's serious.

Rialby said...

Reminds me of that Seinfeld where Elaine purposefully angered her ex-boyfriend, a writer, by buying a pair of eyeglasses that were identical to his very rare Malaysian eyeglasses. He, of course, bought them so that he had a distinct look.

Rialby said...

Great minds Sofa King.

The Crack Emcee said...

Beth,

Crack, in a showdown between Oprah and Franzen, I have to root for Oprah.

And that's why I regularly confuse your comments with those of Rick Sanchez.

Beth said...

Oh Crack, it's too bad you lack a sense of humor; you get credit for trying, though. The whole fun in a Franzen-Oprah showdown is how it encapsulates American pop culture. Tortured intellectual Franzen loses because he's so appalled that touchy-feely lowbrow Oprah has read his book. He's doing serious work! How can you not laugh at that?

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

Beth,

Tortured intellectual Franzen loses because he's so appalled that touchy-feely lowbrow Oprah has read his book. He's doing serious work! How can you not laugh at that?

Her previous pick was The Secret. She said it was the most important book in the world. That's not lowbrow but nobrow. Or a brow so Neanderthalishly elongated, you can no longer find her eyes.

And, in case you missed it, I'm not lightening up from my murder/divorce and what set it in motion:

After The Secret, anyone, in almost any capacity - including the guys from Jackass - has more-than-a-right to look at Oprah Winfrey's body of work, such as it is, and say it's below them.

The Crack Emcee said...

Beth,

And just so we're clear, in the future, on how this Crack/NewAge thing works:

I know people who couldn't honestly write anything on a job application, but "drug addict" and "thief", who I look forward to seeing in my home more than an episode of Oprah.

szoszolo said...

It's Chabon, Franzen, Wolfe, and Vidal - a perfect quartet of overrated writers. (Although I did like Kavalier & Clay.)

MadisonMan said...

Thanks. I was wondering who they were as well.

Beth said...

Crack, Oprah's opinion means nothing to me. What's funny is how publicly horrified Franzen was. It's always funny to see someone who takes themselves so seriously lose their cool, even if it's justified.

The thing is, life exists outside your solipsistic world, and there's humor out there.

H. Gillham said...

Any chance that Tom Wolfe imagined himself Mark Twain? *cough, cough*

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