A very late entry on the PULITIZERS/Jonathan Franzen wasn't her competition!

I know I am late on this game, like really late, but understand I come from Erie to a real city where people don't restrict themselves to just reading J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown. I never knew who either of these gigantic writers were until A FEW WEEKS AGO. THAT IS BAD, MY FRIENDS. 


A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is what won the award, ultimately. Here is a photo of Jen-Jen Egan savoring said moment in history.


she's glowing!


Jennifer Egan is right now in Brooklyn giving a book signing and I am not there. Why am I not there? Because I feel like shit and also because I don't know what subway exit to take and I got really lost between Harlem and DumBo today and I am sick of not understanding the concept of NORTH because in the past I have just looked at the lake and been like OH, NORTH, MAKES SENSE but where do I ask IS THE LAKE HERE.


so. 


I read A Visit mostly on the train which makes no sense because I usually get sick when I read and move at the same time. But I have sort of outmastered that, unless I'm hungover, in which then my stomach is like a plastic bag full of water. It's a good book to read in New York because it's very New York centric.


I will come out and say I liked A Visit far more than Freedom. Although both books are difficult, difficult reads.


A Visit is woven from a tapestry of TOO MANY PLOTS. It's like just when you get involved in one character's story OH NO HERE COMES ANOTHER ONE. AND ANOTHER ONE. AND ANOTHER ONE. oh, did you feel that? IT'S ANOTHER ONE JENNIFER EGAN IS THROWING AT YOUR HEAD. moreeeeeeeee characters! because that's the one thing we just don't have enough of!


seriously, I would have understood this novel better if I had taken notes. or, to quote one Ruth Zeisloft, dialogued.*


But the thing about A Visit is its heartfelt. which made me warm up to it, even though at times I had to put it away, walk outside, smoke a cigarette, sigh deeply, listen to Elliott Smith and then come back and finish a chapter. I like things with heart. I can't read Bret Easton Ellis that much because I doubt he has one.


anyway.


I'd give A Visit an A+. It's beautifully written as well as enormously well though-out and sincere. It's just. so many plots! time does not matter in this book. the characters are douchey but they are likeably douchey, like Joel McHale. And ultimately they are redeemed. Do you remember the Dubliners by father of fuck-all James Joyce? Yep. Put that in a context for the cyber age. BOOM. 


Okay, second book (ahem) is FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOM by Jonathan Franzen. Let's get a photo of this beautiful bb




He looks a little douchy himself. Por que?


Okay, so apparently this book took ages and ages and ages to get writt-en. As they say in the literary world. I have never read anything else by Jonathan Franzen. I'm glad I'm advertising this fact to the world. Oh well. I might give The Corrections a go in the future. This book was BIG in 2010. Like I saw it all the time at Wegman's and I never gave it a second look. I just was like what a weird and bright cover and why is there a bird on it? (PUT A BIRD ON IT! YEAH PORTLANDIA)


Even Barack Obama read it. Another thing that Barack Obama and I have in common, besides being black men.


And also, Parks and Recreation really introduced me to this book. Leslie just wanted to talk about Patty. I can see why. what a crazy bitch!


Franzen's book is made up of wholly unlikable characters- seriously, you learn to hate them not even halfway through, because you see them for a squalid group of immoral fuckups or just genuine sad sacks, in some cases. It plots one family from the 1970s to the 2010s and is the first thing I have read that seems to perfectly encompass the 2000s American political scene. Bush, MTR, contractors, 9/11, what have you.


Also, I believe he named his book FREEDOM before even having written it! But the motif works rather well. And Oprah put this in her book club and he was like BITCH PLEASE. More douche evidence. Is that the literary world I am trying to penetrate?


Whereas it's easy to compare Egan's work of 2010/2011 to Joyce, Franzen gets namedropped with Russian writers of old a lot, key being Tolstoy. And I see that; there's something distinctly Russian about his storytelling. I find myself thinking of The Brothers Karamazov even though I've never read it but it seems like it would be similar. Also that's by Papa D and not Tolstoy. 


Then, the ending! More redemption! After the characters have had their lives all fall apart, time and time again, Franzen uplifts them. Like yeah it will all be okay. You'll go through a lot of shit but you'll survive it. The only thing you won't survive is death. And poop. ...


I'd give this a B+. It's one long ass read, but it's worth it. 


So, in a showdown that took place in my head and Jennifer Weiner may have been a part of, who had the better big buzz book? Egan or Franzen? There's a lot of common themes running through the two- NEW YORK is a big one!- but I think Franzen gets too into himself some time and as Mike said to me, "at times he's trying too hard." Is Egan trying too hard? Perhaps. But Imanothateonthat, she got a Pulitzer, I have writing awards from elementary school. or rather my mom has them. 


conclusion:  read these back-to-back and then feel like an armchair intellectual. 


question:  do you think Marion Cotillard has read Freedom


* I hated dialoguing and rarely did it.

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