Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#278 / Franzen

Jonathan Franzen appeared at The New Yorker Festival on Saturday morning, October 1st, in a conversation with The New Yorker's editor, David Remnick.

Franzen's books generally contain a note that says that Franzen "lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California;" sometimes the note says "Boulder Creek" instead of "Santa Cruz."

I probably should have attended this particular session out of home town pride, if for no other reason, but I actually expected that this might be one of the highlights of the entire Festival for me (placing home town pride aside), and so it turned out to be.

Franzen was particularly thoughtful in his replies to what was exceptionally penetrating and effective questioning by Remnick, and in his responses to the public's questions. By "thoughtful," I mean that Franzen seemed actually to try to think about what he thought before he said what he thought. The Nation magazine has a nice description of the conversation, particularly highlighting Franzen's reflections on President Obama. I hadn't thought that the conversation was going to have much to do with either politics or the environment (this was supposedly an exchange that would focus on "literary" matters), but so it happened anyway.

And then, if my memory has properly captured the phrase exactly as Franzen spoke it, he also likened the "financial services industry," i.e., Wall Street, to a "giant blood-sucking squid."

It really wasn't about home town pride, but I am proud to hear the voice of Santa Cruz, so nicely phrased, when out on the East Coast.

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