Reading Franzen: Part II


Part II: The Failure

Were this, for any thing other than my blog and my own recent desire to read authors I would otherwise never touch with a ten foot pole (after all many writers suggest reading good and bad books to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t and why), I might have given up long ago. As it is, the story takes a bit longer than one would expect to get going and even though the introduction of Chip who is at best, a sad pathetic man-child, continues on the path of characters I loathe, I admit my feelings about this story are at an impasse. On the one hand, It’s still not interesting not really. It’s a character study, but the characters are well worn. Everyone knows people like these characters, they’re not wholly original in that sense (though who is?). Early in my notes of my thoughts on the book I wondered, vociferously if the world really needed another book about middle America and the dying of traditional family values, in that I’m still not sure where the author stands personally on. I suspect, given his views on the changing of literature and his insistence that serious literature is dying that perhaps he would also bemoan what some call the death of traditional family values, and what others would call, the end of staying together for the sake of keeping up appearances.

The story gets, it would be difficult to say more interesting, but perhaps slightly less dull, as the story gets further in. I’m curious though, were the author anyone else than the detestable to my mind, Mr. Franzen would I have enjoyed it? I suspect not, as I still find it difficult to get through a novel by an author whom I adore (the Casual Vacancy). Literary fiction is not for everyone, though at least Ms. Rowling’s slice of the small-town life feels almost more real than anything presented thus far by Mr. Franzen. Though I confess, no less awkwardly at times. (See: awkward sex scenes of the Casual Vacancy).

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