Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Upper-body workouts

La Manguso on Teddy Wayne's Kapitoil vs. Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, for the Tournament of Books:

Postmodernism seems to have let the blood out of half of the bad contemporary American novels, and sentiment masquerades as depth of feeling in the other half—in a naughty moment, Patty and Walter’s son refers to the latter sort of book’s reliance on “descriptions of rooms and plantings.” Franzen gets away with that crack, though, for what Freedom attempts is more ambitious than mere sentiment or mere intellection. It asks us to empathize with its lily-white characters, despite their Volvos and organic gardens and upper-body workouts, despite their chosen confinement in such banal surroundings.



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