Critics' choice?

By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON  |  August 29, 2010

"If you are a literate human who lives on planet Earth, you probably have an opinion about Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections," Sam Anderson wrote in reviewing Freedom for New York magazine. In that one sentence, Anderson pinpoints the fraught relationship the mainstream book critic has with his audience. Will those of us who don't have an opinion about The Corrections hang our heads in shame? Will we rush out to the local library? Will we crumple our magazine in anger and toss it at the dental receptionist's head? Or will we sigh, relieved that we're not among the self-satisfied?

It's too bad, because the rest of Anderson's review does a brilliant job of explaining just how Franzen's indelible characters and penchant for "an old-fashioned love story" make a 500-page novel fun to read. "I picked Freedom up out of a sense of duty," he acknowledges, "then read it semi-addictively and finished it in just a few days."

But the upshot is that Freedom has been coopted by an embattled critic class who're busy foisting something from which they've sucked all the joy onto a public they don't seem to respect. No wonder people don't read novels.

Boston Public Library, Copley Square, Boston | September 11 at 2 pm | Free |
South Church, 292 State St, Portsmouth NH | September 10 @ 7 pm | Free |

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  | 
Related: Review: Per Petterson plumbs The River of Time, Fall Books Preview: Getting booked, Interview: Maya Angelou shares her wisdom, More more >
  Topics: Books , Entertainment, Books, Boston Public Library,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   IS BOSTON RIGHT FOR WRITERS?  |  March 05, 2013
    Boston, the birthplace of American literature, boasts three MFA programs, an independent creative-writing center, and more than a dozen colleges offering creative-writing classes.
    George Saunders: satirist, humanist, and — after 20 years, four magisterial short story collections, a novella, and a book of essays — now a bestselling author.
  •   INTERVIEW: THE PASSION OF MIKE DAISEY  |  February 14, 2013
    Last January, storyteller Mike Daisey achieved a level of celebrity rarely attained among the off-Broadway set when the public radio program This American Life aired portions of his monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs .
  •   GETTING BOOKED: WINTER READS  |  December 21, 2012
    Who cares about the fiscal cliff when we'll have authors talking about Scientology, the space-time continuum, and Joy Division?
  •   BRILLIANT FRIENDS: GREAT READS OF 2012  |  December 17, 2012
    You already know Chis Ware's Building Stories is the achievement of the decade (thanks, New York Times!), but some other people wrote some pretty great books this year too.

 See all articles by: EUGENIA WILLIAMSON