Franzen vs. Giant Platypus

Tomorrow is August 31st, 2010, which under normal circumstances is only of note because it’s Debbie “Deborah” Gibson’s birthday (and nobody really cares about that since the unfortunate Playboy incident, though Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus did scare up more fans than the Electric Youth album, as will the forthcoming Mega Python vs. Gatoroid!).  But this is 2010.  This is the electronic age of internet-viral-type greatness.  This is the release date of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which is hitting the ground running with more literary momentum than any book in quite some time.  You will want to buy it.  You will want to opine.  You will want to share it with your friends.  You will want to be the first person in the world to run into the streets yelling, “Dear God, what is this book about, and why can’t I stop reading it?”

Or something like that.  I don’t know.  I’m not reading it.

All I know is that he’s being heralded as a literary genius, the next great American novelist, and maybe that’s true, and maybe it isn’t.  But this is his first novel in eight years–first since the Oprah shunning–and I don’t think any author should be elevated to that type of status based upon a couple of books.  Patterson kills bugs, true, but the fact remains that mainstream America doesn’t give a flip about literary credibility.  There was a push a few years back for Thomas Pynchon’s book, Against the Day, which was replete in reviews hailing it broadly as the next great work of literary fiction, and maybe it was, but now it’s tipping bookshelves over, or holding doors open, and you won’t get much more out of someone who read it than, “Hey, that was that book with that telekinetic pug, right?”

Thus ends my mini Franz-a-rant.

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