10.13.2004

Jen, that Hanne Blank article is exactly right, thank you so much for posting it.

Yes: "the domestic, the mundane, the sensual, the emotionally fraught" are feminized and given NO authority in literature--any book that deals with these things gets knocked down to "middle-brow" by unspoken sub-genre lines or actual critics.

THIS is why Jonathan Franzen didn't want Oprah's Book Club sticker. He didn't mind the very boy-boy FSG sticker on his book, now did he? But his panic was this, in my belief: putting Oprah's Book Club on there knocks him down to the realm of giving blow jobs and sweeping floors and dating bad men and surviving the pink collar ghetto, none of which make for "serious literature," or what Alice Sebold so geniusly calls "big boy books." Oprah's Book Club meant to him: "you write like you have a vagina and nobody with a brain will take your book seriously."

(By the way, getting blow jobs does in fact make for serious literature, the last time I checked).

And then don't you just love it when Franzen in interviews on The Corrections starts going on and on about how he's finding new turf in literature--writing about family dramas and the domestic sphere is this big, new crazy world he's discovered! (with a pathetic Eastern European coup storyline tacked on for street cred with his homies, of course). I actually really loved The Corrections, but I find embarrassing and laughable most of Franzen's brouhaha about a) the novel being dead (I think he forgot, when he wrote that Harper's essay, that he meant the Total Old White Guy Cranky Ass Novel being dead) and b) his novel doing something totally new because it deals with people who talk about their emotions.

Women and other Not Old White Guy Cranky Asses have been writing amazing new turf in the novel for the past 30 years and still are, which Franzen failed to notice when he wrote that Harper's Is-the-Novel-Dead? article.

And in these Not Old White Guy Cranky Ass novels, people actually sometimes talk about their emotions.

But a hetero white guy comes along, writes a decent novel, and says he invented these things, you give him the National Book Award.

Louise Erdrich rivals Faulkner in scope and depth, and surpasses him in style, and she gets passed over.

I'm just saying.

xo
--Elizabeth

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