Jonathan Franzen, Literary Franzia

When it comes to the Jonathan Wunderkinds — successful novelists Franzen, Lethem, and Safran Foer — we tend to pick our battles. That is to say, we'll focus maybe on the work or media flurry surrounding one Jonathan at a time, lest we confuse our Illuminated Fortresses with our Twenty-Seventh Incredibly Loud Disappontments.

Lately, we've been fluffing the Safran Foer of Jonathans, if only because he keeps buying up Brooklyn and furthering the existence of Elijah Wood. But the October issue of Harper's has broken our concentration with a cover story in defense of experimental fiction which, more or less, reminds us that the Franzen of Jonathans — who typically hates experimental fiction or any other literary stuffs that don't result in immediate fame and fortune — is a bit of an asshole. It's heady stuff to tackle before 9 A.M., but a choice bit of Franzenism comes from an online dialogue with New Yorker editor Ben Greenman, as reprinted in the article:

If somebody is thinking of investing fifteen or twenty hours in reading a book of mine — fifteen or twenty hours that could be spent at the movies, or online, or an extreme-sports environment — the last thing I want to do is punish them with needless difficulty.

Excuse us? We read The Corrections and most certainly felt punished with a needless meandering narrative. Sure, it was easy to read, but given Franzen's unabashed condescension, we'd rather have our intelligence insulted by a Golden Book.

Excerpt: Why Experimental Fiction Threatens to Destroy Publishing, Jonathan Franzen, and Life as We Know It [Harper's]