Comments on: An almost unbloglich level of Franzenfreude http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:41:03 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: tdraicer http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1689801 Wed, 02 Oct 2013 19:42:10 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1689801 Franzen certainly doesn’t come off well in that article, and I haven’t read his novels, so I’m certainly not here to defend him. But speaking as a lover of BOOKS I am both worried and depressed at the possibility that most writing may end up on Kindles, or that actual bookstores may go extinct outside of major cities, leaving us Amazon as the only way to browse. Perhaps this is technophobia or mere nostalgia, but I don’t think so. Even a cheaply printed book may survive a hundred years. But electronic devices have an increasingly limited lifespan, and every time we “upgrade” not all the catalog of things available in the “old” version makes the jump.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1675599 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 14:25:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1675599 What was up with Avery? I’ve never heard of him. Tell us more!

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By: Western Dave http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1675517 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 13:29:03 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1675517 Bit of inisider gossip here, but Franzen revealed he was close to George Avery. Avery was among the worst teachers I had at Swarthmore. After I took his class, I think I didn’t read serious fiction for about a decade. That guy made me hate books. [NB: I took that class at a time when I had some bad family stuff happen, and I remember that my semester as my worst at Swat for a whole bunch of reasons, but lots of people told me not to take Avery before that class so I don't think it's just me].

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1675441 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 12:45:39 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1675441 Great points, dandelion.

I would say that Alice Munro and Alice McDermott always write about women, and put women’s experiences at the center of their writing. (I haven’t read as much McDermott as Munro, so please correct me if I’m mistaken.)

I need to read Messud’s latest novel. I thought her 9/11 novel was kind of a cheesy airport read rather than lit fiction, but maybe I’m misremembering.

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By: dandelion http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1674784 Wed, 25 Sep 2013 05:10:35 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1674784 One thing about those women literary writers — I think it would be interesting to compare the literary community’s responses to women who center men in their writing — Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel, a lot of A.S. Byatt’s work — versus those who center women — Claire Messud, e.g.

My impression garnered over twenty years of reading reviews is that a woman writer is far more likely to receive critical attention if she’s writing about men.

Hmmm….. what other women writers, publishing right now, center women’s lives and also receive critical acclaim? Emma Donoghue for Room, though the narrator was male child. Elizabeth Strout for Olive Kitteridge, though now her latest, The Burgess Boys, centers men.

It’s actually not all that easy to think of current literary fiction written by women that centers the experience of women.

The word “family” obscures the question of gender. Where is the point of view situated? Which character faces the greatest conflict? Philip Roth has written about families too. But not exactly with POV situated in a female character.

As for Franzen, to my taste, he writes very good sentences.

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By: Lindsay http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1674195 Tue, 24 Sep 2013 21:30:05 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1674195 Oh, and also @Dr Crazy – urban fantasy is female-dominated! I’m not sure where it fits in popular genre fiction — it has elements of fantasy, horror, and romance, so I guess it would get shelved according to whichever predominates in a particular book. But they’re almost all written by women, and almost all feature female protagonists, even when the story is primarily action- or suspense-oriented rather than romantic.

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By: Lindsay http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1674190 Tue, 24 Sep 2013 21:27:10 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1674190 @Dr Crazy – your posts have been hugely informative, and even though I would’ve come up with Zadie Smith as a woman who writes about families, like Franzen does, and is given the same (or higher) literary status, I wouldn’t have been able to list any other names. Don’t know how I forgot Kingsolver.

I actually see the label “immigrant writer” or “writer of immigrants’ stories” attached to Zadie Smith way more than “woman writer”; immigrant, multicultural, next-generation … those are the words I see people using for her. So maybe comparing her with Franzen isn’t apples to apples — she could fit into multiple boxes, while (a hypothetical) LadyFranz probably couldn’t. I also think a lot of the writers you and Historiann mentioned write stories with a lot more scope to them than either The Corrections or Freedom. The Poisonwood Bible was a story about a family, but it was also about white American missionaries in 1960s Africa. And Zadie Smith’s work, too — it might be dealing with less extreme examples of cultures coming into contact (or conflict) and social conditions rapidly changing, but it still does deal with those themes. Franzen … doesn’t, really. He writes middle-class suburban white Americans. He does it well, he handles generational differences and subtle intergenerational differences with a deft hand and a sympathetic gaze — but Kingsolver and Smith do this too, in addition to everything else. Their stories of families play out on a bigger canvas than his, with a lot more going on in the background. (And A.S. Byatt — don’t know her work apart from Possession, but Possession‘s canvas was positively sprawling.) Toni Morrison too — she’s had a much longer career than Franzen has, but her stories take place in so many different eras, and she does such a great job of evoking each one, that I also think of her as writing on a much grander scale than Franzen, even though she too tends to anchor her novels around one family. (She also tends to involve more generations — with Franzen, you get two, sometimes three.)

Not sure where I was going with all that, but there it is.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1671767 Mon, 23 Sep 2013 13:35:56 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1671767 Hess, Hesser–what’s the difference? They are both German names so I guess they deserve only coin-throwing contempt!

(Kidding!)

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By: Dr. Crazy http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1670934 Mon, 23 Sep 2013 03:18:56 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1670934 Wait! DAMN! I just read carefully what you wrote, Sharon, and now I realize I’m an ass! Please ignore the past two comments I wrote, and realize that I’m tired! Yes, you’re right! I’m conflating two different people! Because while I might know my novelists, I’m sloppy with people who aren’t novelists! I’m going to bed, and I am stupid.

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By: Dr. Crazy http://www.historiann.com/2013/09/20/an-almost-unbloglich-level-of-franzenfreude/comment-page-1/#comment-1670933 Mon, 23 Sep 2013 03:14:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=21866#comment-1670933 Wait, except I now just clicked over, and it’s totally AMANDA HESS. Ummm.

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