Franzen on writers and politics

Unlike many of my friends, I thought Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections was a decent book. Sure, the parents were caricatures, and there were other problems, but whatever: it was entertaining and occasionally poignant, and I tore through it on a plane ride.

Homeboy, however, needs an attitude adjustment on the subject of writers and politics.

Look, it’s fine if a novelist doesn’t want to take a political position. Franzen should feel free to be silent if that suits him.

But this kind of blase, out-of-hand dismissal of all writers’ political convictions and discourse is idiotic and dangerous — not to mention contravened by the course of history. And it’s hypocritical where, as here, the author has written satirical fiction of political significance within the last couple of years.

(Thanks to Nick K. for the BBC link and to Moorish Girl circa March, 2003 for the old story.)


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.