Sunday, August 7, 2016

Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen's latest novel is Purity. From his conversation with Isaac Chotiner at Slate:

Are there writers you envy?

I don’t feel that so much now that I am settled in who I am.

But in the cartoon universe of the writer’s imagination, every two years, three years, four years, five years, the entire nation should put down what it is doing and pay attention for several months to that writer’s new book. And it should be reviewed everywhere, and there should be endless packed houses wanting to hear what that writer has written, and it should stay atop the best-seller list for several years, and then all should fall quiet until the next book comes out. So no matter how well you are doing, if you don’t have a book out, and you are seeing somebody get attention, there is a little part of you that says, “Why are they paying attention to that person? Has everyone read my book?” It’s insane. It’s completely insane, what the writer secretly wants.

I actually, despite feeling over-rewarded, think, “Oh yes, but I didn’t get this prize nomination. What was that?” It’s not really envy, but in the writer’s imagination, there is a zero-sum game. Everything someone else is getting is being taken away from you. You can be very rational about it and say, “That’s insane, it’s a big tent, there’s room for lots of us.” But I don’t know. Maybe this is not a universal feeling. Maybe I am a very bad person....[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue