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#JonathanFranzenHates, Nabokoving, and Other News

March 7, 2012 | by


A cultural news roundup.

  • “Once again, it’s that time of year when otherwise mature adults paint their faces in the palettes of their favorite book jacket designers, and all across Facebook college kids post pictures of themselves Nabokoving. Yes, we’re talking about book awards season.”
  • Happy birthday, John Updike!
  • Happy birthday, Douglas Adams!
  • Geoff Dyer on “bunking off.”
  • With friends like these, Saul Bellow didn’t need enemies.
  • Elizabeth Bowen and Jean Rhys get the “blue plaque treatment” in London.
  • Stephen King: “The idea that a writer can bring his core audience into the tent with a blurb ... you might as well try herding cats.”
  • The fact that Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s here is a selling point. The fact that it has eighteen rooms doesn’t hurt, either.
  • Footnotes upon footnotes in Footnote.
  • “Eggers named his journal after McSweeney before he knew anything about the man, and didn't discover his identity until after McSweeney died in January 2010 at age sixty-seven.”
  • The famously combative Ben Jonson.
  • Jonathan Franzen: “Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose … it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters … it’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it’s like writing a novel without the letter ‘P’… It’s the ultimate irresponsible medium … People I care about are readers … particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves.”
  • #JonathanFranzenHates



    1. Joe Carlson | March 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Worth getting horns from a “friend” if it produces this:
      “Because he let the entire world press upon him. For instance? Well, for instance, what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organized power. Subject to tremendous controls. In a condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who have discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do. As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs. The beautiful supermachinery opening a new life for innumerable mankind. Would you deny them the right to exist? Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you enjoy delicious old-fashioned Values? You – you yourself are a child of this mass and a brother to all the rest. Or else an ingrate, dilettante, idiot. There, Herzog, thought Herzog, since you ask for the instance, is the way it runs.”

    2. Richard Ede | March 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Had it been around at the time Moses Herzog would have Twittered, and possibly to even greater effect.

    3. L | March 8, 2012 at 11:05 am

      I thought Eggers knew who McSweeney was in 1999 or 2000 when an intern was a cousin of the man. He wrote about this as the time.

    4. L | March 8, 2012 at 11:08 am

      (it was in that small print stuff opening the journal some time around issue 5.)

    5. Tom | March 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Eggers actually wrote all about the real Timothy McSweeney in his editor’s note for issue 6 of the magazine. That came out back in 2001. There was an intern, also named McSweeney, and the intern and his family figured out the intern’s father was the brother of Timothy, who “had a long history of mental illness… and has been hospitalized many times.” The note ends, “We respectfully dedicate this and all issues to the real Timothy, and nod our heads in restless kinship with him, and wish him comfort and joy. He is fortunate to have supporting him a family of such strength and compassion.”

    6. Grant | April 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Haha serious readers… poor Franzen

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