Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Nine years ago Oprah Winfrey picked author Jonathan Franzen's book 'The Corrections' as her book club choice -- and nine years ago in a fit of ambivalence and pretension, he turned her down.
Upon having recently acquired this book courtesy of Amazon.com, all I can say is thank God I didn't pay full price for this overblown piece of work. That's not to say I don't like it. I've poked around and took a gander: kicked the tires and looked under the hood. I'm not done but so far my thoughts are that the pretension of it's contents rivals this mans ego. It's intricate and interesting -- but that doesn't necessarily make for a good, easy read.
To be so self important and full of New York angst (a bit of a cliché, don't you think?) that he turns down an appearance on the biggest television show in history -- Oprah's book club can make or break sales -- is bewitching.
Like it or not this is the age in which we live: where it's no longer simply reviews of a newspaper that gets a readers attention, but the good word of a woman who wields unstoppable power and does so with fairness and generosity.
You want to turn that down? Then you're going to have to wait for readers like myself to wait nine years to purchase said work used instead of paying full price brand new.
Must be nice to live with that kind of arrogance, self assurance and bemused entitlement.
What brings all this on is this woman's willingness to forgive and forget and once again pick Mr. Franzen's latest novel, 'Freedom', as her latest book club choice.
She's a better woman than I am.
In reading 'The Corrections' (and granted, I'm still early on), it is so full of it's own virtues (or I should say Mr. Franzen is) that it is yet unclear whether I will go on to read 'Freedom'.
Ask me in nine years.
The story revolves around the aging Lambert's; Enid and Alfred, who is suffering the affects of Parkinson's.
They have three grown children (two sons and a daughter) who have long flown the coop, each with their own failings and copious of issues which they keep from their parents.
My thing is this: I simply love to read. It's a good pastime. It's a way to self educate, motivate and get lost in a world unlike you're own.
I don't pretend to read Hemingway but I've been known to read Jane Austen, Dan Brown as well as Nora Roberts.
I'm not hard to please nor am I a book snob.
I can handle Jonathan Franzen's book, but I don't want to. I don't want to handle anything -- I want a book to be an easy, smooth ride.
This is a hard read and while I'm intelligent enough to get it (shhh--don't tell anyone: I call it 'my dirty little secret') -- 'The Corrections' makes itself clear in the first chapter alone that it doesn't want to be got.
I like words which is part of the reason why I don't subscribe to the 'LOL' (Laugh Out Loud) movement -- no offense if you do.
So, for me to think that this book is too much, well then, it must be.
One word comes to mind to describe all it's pretension and that of the author in question: 'Sesquipedalian'.
If any of you saw the movie 'Love Happens' (not usually a fan of Jennifer Aniston nor her movies, but this is one worth watching) then you probably know what this word means: It means someone who uses long and/or not frequently used/known words.
THIS is Jonathan Franzen.
In the first chapter we have: 'Zoysia', 'Metasound', 'Metallurgy', 'Protoplasm', 'Rhodium', 'Cadmium', 'bismuth', 'Aqua Regia', 'Gubernatorial' 'Crepuscular', 'Corpuscles' and 'Corpuscularity'.
I don't know what, if anything, the author is trying to prove -- but for me, a reasonably intelligent and open-minded book lover, the only thing he's proving is that after this, I doubt I'll be buying anymore of his books. Nine years old, used, UN-used or not.
For now, my copy of 'The Corrections' shall go on to remain palimpsest -- and that will have to do me.
Take that word, Mr. Franzen, and smoke it in your pipe. Don't forget the ascot.