Hating Jonathan Franzen

Kevin Power at the Dublin Review of Books:

But in fact what is remarkable about the opprobrium heaped on Franzen by the online literati is that it seems to have very little to do with his actual work. The author of the Medium essay I quoted above clearly has not read Franzen’s fiction (or if she has she has failed to understand it). But she knows how she feels about the man. And this is typical. Successive waves of online Franzen-hatred have generally taken the form of ad hominem responses to essays, or to remarks made in interviews, or to his occasional appearances on television. That Franzen’s opinions – expressed in forms, very much including the essay, that he has not mastered and that tend to serve him poorly – so often go against the contemporary grain (for instance his distrust of social media) or situate him squarely in a trainspotterish cul de sac of hobbyism (all that birdwatching) mean that he is, from the point of view of the virtue-signalling culture warriors of Twitter, a soft target. Here, once again, Franzen may have to take some of the blame. It’s difficult to think of another contemporary novelist who is served so poorly by out-of-context quotation, or by his own inability to craft acceptable soundbites.

more here.