April 28, 2012

The "inescapable shame of being a storyteller."

An enactment of shame, by Jonathan Franzen:

Via David Haglund, who proceeds to further shame Franzen.


Richard Dolan said...

Haglund is right to zero in on that "exchange of gifts" euphemism by Franzen. Franzen skips over the essentially exploitative nature of storytelling. It reminded me of Janet Malcolm's take-down of similarly high-minded cant by journalists.

Franzen may well be giving gifts to his reading public, but it's a bit different for those who get ground up by the story to do so. They are being used (Wallace was being mostly abused, it seems), and no one is likely to see that as an kind of gift.

Tim said...

Jonathan Franzen. Isn't he the fucker who called the US a rogue state?


somefeller said...

Jonathan Franzen is the Ford Madox Ford of his generation, without the cool name. An asterisk in the history of literature, waiting to happen.

madAsHell said...

I'm not sure how you manage a life filled with assumed guilt.

Skyler said...

I think the point that Franzen seems to be missing is that his "story telling" is pretty egocentric. You don't have to make everything about yourself in order to tell a story.

It seems like he enjoys the image of being someone who suffers for his art. In reality, he's just a sissy who won't even do the decent thing and write another condolence letter to the mother and help her with her grief that he caused.

I suspect that when he describes the other boy as being unliked by others, what we should infer is that he didn't like the boy, and that most likely the other students didn't like Franzen so much.

Rusty said...

I heard the NPR like entro music and decided he was boring. Like a mime.

Tank said...

I enjoyed that.

And I've enjoyed those of his books I've read. An interesting guy sort of "thinking/writing out loud" about things.

I also enjoyed when his initial, totally politically incorrect reaction to being picked by Oprah happened. I understood exactly why that bothered him, and it was much more interesting than if he had just come on and kissed up to her like every other author.

PS We are a rogue state.

TML said...

Pah! Let him be a douchebag and a hoity-toity if he wants. That was brilliant. If we let our storytellers, songwriters and actors be chosen merely in accord with our political and personal preferences, we'd all find the world pretty damned shallow and boring. I'm sure I'd joyously strangle Franzen in another context. This context, however, was storytelling.