I’m a relative latecomer to Jonathan Franzen, but something has struck me about the latest incumbent of the office of ‘great American novelist’. Either by instinct or design he knows how to grab a headline.
In 2001, his novel ‘The Corrections’ was chosen for Oprah Winfrey’s book club. Franzen initially agreed. Then came a volte face when on national radio he said he believed the Oprah logo on the cover would dissuade men from reading the book. Franzen’s invitation to appear on Oprah’s show was withdrawn and major media attention ensued. ’The Corrections’ became one of the decade’s best-selling works.
When the author’s next major work appeared almost a decade later the novel ‘Freedom’ was subject to highly unusual “recall” in the UK. An earlier draft, to which Franzen had made over 200 …er ‘corrections’, had been published by mistake. Thousands of books were pulped and thousands of column inches written.
Recently when Franzen appeared at the Hay Festival in Cartegena he condemned the e-book reader, prompting another avalanche of press copy. Jonathan Franken is without doubt a brilliant writer. He’s also a brilliant publicist.