Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jonathan Franzen can't write . . .

. . . English.

Here's a sentence from Freedom:

"At home, after checking on the kids, she put on a sleeveless top and little cotton shorts and came after Walter in bed. This was very unusual of her, but thankfully not so unheard-of as to provoke comment and examination; and Walter needed no persuading to oblige her. It wasn't a big deal, just a little late-evening surprise, and yet in autobiographical retrospect it now looks almost like the high point of their life together."

Nice of her to come after Walter did, even if it was unusual. No need for examination though.

Two paragraphs down:

"A few weeks later, Dorothy collapsed at the dress store in Grand Rapids. Patty, sounding like her own mother, expressed concern to Walter about the hospital care she was getting, and was tragically vindicated when Dorothy went into multiple organ failure and died."

It's too bad that Patty's concern about her poor care is vindicated by the multiple organ failure of her mother in law. Vindication can strike pretty randomly, I guess. And this is the first we hear of Dorothy's failure and death.

Turn to any page in the book and you will find at least one sentence of stunning ugliness and and another of analgesic vapidity. 


Anonymous said...

Yet another tiresome piece of flotsam washed up by my Jonathan Franzen Google News alert. Sigh.

Mohan Matthen said...

Hi Jetsam, He's a good story-teller, but unless you're Jonathan Franzen, just read the prose and tell me it isn't appalling.

J'Rod said...

You know that the character of Patty is the narrator here, right? It's her journal/autobiography. That's why she says Patty was vindicated: she felt like she was and that's why she makes a point to say it. It's her thoughts and feelings, not the third-person narrator from other parts of the book.