For those of you following yesterday’s discussion about the so-called “paradox” between class privilege and rage, you might want to check out this week’s New Yorker (May 31, 2010). Jonathan Franzen has a story, “Agreeable,”about a teen-aged jock in the 1970s who is raped. In addition to a thoughtful exploration of how the girl would have experienced the rape and its aftermath, it is also a perfect illustration of how class works to suppress the reporting and prosecution of crimes by privileged men.
I will just add that I’m a huge fan of Franzen. The Corrections is my favorite novel of the past decade. It was one of those books that my husband and I fought over while we were reading it–one of us was always angling to snatch it out of the other one’s hands so that ze could run off and read it. Neither of us could refrain from cackles of gleeful recognition while it was in our possession, because we found it so hilarious. I realize that opinions vary widely on Franzen, especially after the Oprah Winfrey debacle, but I think he captures precisely a particular middle-class experience of adolescence and young adulthood in the last half of the twentieth century. (And besides: the hero is a hapless academic who stages his own spectacular career flameout. Who among you could resist? What’s not to love?)