I’ve been asked in the comments about my hatred of Jeffrey Eugenides, and I was about to write a post all about it, but then I had this weird feeling that I had already done so, and I searched my archives, and
Ha ha ha
How many times have I repeated myself on this goddamn blog over the past 10 years?? Jesus. I am really glad that at least this time I remembered I had already said something. Sorry for all the repetition you guys! I guess I am obsessed with Jeffrey Eugenides, among other things. Jeffrey Eugenides is to me what David Foster Wallace is to Jeffrey Eugenides. LOL hardly! Besides, I don’t have a penis to measure, so I’m sort of outside that whole game.
Re-reading that entry made me so sad that DFW is dead. He is the only dead person I legitimately get personally sad about on a regular basis (so far; I’m sure this will change as life continues taking its awful toll on all of us). I just miss him so much, and I want to know what he would say about things. I want to read his final version of the Pale King, which will never exist on this earth. It makes me feel very hopeless, that the only person whose honest view of the world really gibed with my own actually couldn’t take it, and killed himself. Where does that leave the rest of us? I also am just sad for him. I think often of the scenes from Karen Green’s poetry memoir of him, particularly the ones with the upset dogs. I didn’t know, until reading her memoir, that the dogs were with him when he died. When she got home they ran to her howling and upset, and led her to where he was hanging. I hate it so much, I can’t bear it. And then later she had to give one of the dogs away to a friend because she couldn’t handle its emotional needs in the wake of everything. I can’t bear that either, it’s too much.
So anyway, in light of these feelings, you can imagine what happens inside me when I read some bullshitty interview with a Eugenides or a Franzen where they’re like “yeah, David was okay I guess but he just held everyone in such contempt, and of course I am a real writer and so I have love for humanity in my heart, not hatred like David did” YOU TRANSPARENT OAFS, p.s. you both hate women. I mean, women don’t exactly come out well in DFW either but at least they are actual characters he takes time and interest in developing. Reading those other two you are like, honestly boys, have you ever spoken to a woman about anything but your many literary prizes. They have the interest-level in women of, on the one hand, 13 year old boys, and on the other hand, a medieval king.
It’s weird though because it’s true that Middlesex was pretty good, and did not leave me with these same feelings of grossness. I am not actually sure I can comprehend how the same person could write Middlesex and The Marriage Plot. Perhaps Middlesex was written by a dead person from whom Eugenides stole the manuscript? Or else the Marriage Plot was the result of a lost bet. I honestly don’t know. Middlesex was not my favorite book on earth but it certainly felt like its author was interested in gender and identity in a way the author of the Marriage Plot can only shrilly puppet in a really upsetting fashion. What gives??
You know what else though? I really don’t like the New York literary scenester scene. I don’t like that all you have to do to be a hot hip new young novelist is just live in New York and meet the right asshole at a cocktail party. I don’t like how “the industry” is located there and everyone who is anyone simply MUST be seen there blah blah. This dude who just published the book about twee that never even mentions music? New York cocktail party dude. I feel like that dude is legion, and I am tired of his voice. I am tired of your Franzens and your Eugenideses (who, to be fair, is now a Princeton dude, not strictly-speaking a New York dude, but Jesus Christ, PRINCETON) looking down their noses at a DFW, who has more intellect, humanity, and brilliance in his sweaty bandana than they have in their whole body including their dicks they are so worried about. I like that DFW just ambled around in the midwest and thought New York was depressing. He didn’t like going to those self-aggrandizing New York scenester parties where everyone’s trying to out-brag everyone else about how they had lunch with Phillip Roth or whatever. Those parties quite famously gave him hives and nervous breakdowns. He hated giving readings to champagne-swilling dorks who aren’t even paying attention, they’re just trying to see who else is there. He wanted to live in a corn field and talk to sincere earnest midwestern students and walk his dogs. He relentlessly stripped away bullshit and tried to see underneath it, in his writing, and I feel like some of his contemporaries–the ones who fully have submitted to the New York literary machine–only make a pretense of doing this, but they are unable to, because they’ve so fully accepted the bullshit in their own lives. I’ve gotten to the point where I see on a book jacket that someone is a “young New York writer” and I kind of am just exhausted already by it. I had never heard of Colson Whitehead but then my old man told me he wrote a zombie novel, so I was stoked, and went and got it, and there on the book jacket it says he’s a hot New York writer who has won a lot of fancy New York writer awards and I felt like, this book is probably not going to be up my alley IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT IT IS A WHOLE NOVEL ABOUT ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE WRITTEN BY SOMEONE WHO CAN ACTUALLY WRITE. And I was right, that book was boring as hell, there I said it.
Also, I googled “making fun of Jonathan Franzen” and was reminded of that INSANE SHIT HE WROTE in the Guardian called “What’s Wrong With the Modern World” LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
Look, there is a lot that’s wrong with the modern world–some of it even makes his list, for example how much Amazon.com sucks–but I would probably dig into, I don’t know, how the police of america are basically on a nationwide racially-motivated murder spree, or whatever, rather than book reviewers who don’t read Jonathan Franzen’s work carefully enough (it’s on his list!). He is a straight white New York dude who has benefited enormously, some would say exclusively, from the status quo, he fancies himself a liberal, and yet he is truly perhaps one of the biggest elitists who has ever lived.
Anyway, what do I know
It’s also funny because reading Freedom is what helped me finally see that I don’t want to have children. I’ll remember that book for the rest of my life! And yet I didn’t really like it, and I don’t really like Franzen. And yet, forevermore, I’ll have to tell my unborn children: “you don’t exist because of a dumb novel by a guy I don’t respect”
I guess that’s life! You win some you lose some