Here Is a Good, Correct Reading of What's Bad About Jonathan Franzen

Tom Scocca · 09/01/15 12:23PM

Jonathan Franzen makes it deceptively easy to criticize Jonathan Franzen. Yes, he sounds like a boob when he talks about himself, but that’s not really what’s wrong with him, or not really what’s wrong with his writing, if you are one of the people who has the feeling that there is something wrong with his writing. This feeling is deeply subjective and hard to express, a sort of literary Uncanny Valley effect, but if you sense it, you sense it—and, luckily for those of us who do, so does Grantland’s Brian Phillips. Of Franzen’s novels, and their “weird, spiraling cluelessness,” Phillips writes: