Jonathan Franzen takes (another) one in the gut

by Jess

Jonathan Franzen has earned widespread critical acclaim for his writing.  He also, apparently, is not a very good writer.  I say that having never read any of Franzen’s work, but having read several reviews that specifically call into question Franzen’s skill and abilities.  They’re not just saying that the book itself is bad, they’re saying Franzen’s prose is juvenile and uninteresting.  Again, I can’t vouch for this personally, having never cracked the cover of one of his books, but after you read this review by B.R. Myers in The Atlantic, you won’t want to either.

To be fair, Myers’ opinions on what makes good writing often run counter to the prevailing culture, but it’s hard to argue with him when he scrutinizes excerpts under a microscope of classic close reading, something of a lost art these days.  I don’t always agree with Myers, but I appreciate his candor and keen eye, and I like that he’s not afraid to loudly voice an unpopular opinion.