So. I have this literary crush on Jonathan Franzen. Whom I’ve actually never read [yet]. I’ve heard him speak, though, and have perused several interviews with him, most recent of which was his ‘The Art of Fiction’ interview in the current Paris Review (which I recommend), and, well, yes, I’ve a literary crush because I admire a man who’s well-read and can speak articulately about these books which he has read. (I think I started dismantling at the point he started talking about Proust and analysing Joyce and explaining why Beckett is preferred over Joyce.) Plus, there’s something respectable about someone being articulate in and of itself.
I didn’t buy Freedom; I admit the sheer girth of that novel is off-putting; but, after initially picking up his collection of essays, I did spy The Corrections on the table of ‘buy one get one 50% off’ at Borders, with Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle in near proximity — a suitable arrangement, really, because I’d originally walked into Borders wanting to pick up The Corrections, anyway, and hadn’t seen it on the shelf under the weighty row of Freedom copies.
To be perfectly honest, I have an instinctive block against American authors, especially American male authors, an oddity because the greater majority of my favourite European/Asian authors are male. I think part of it has to do with my mental correlation with American male fiction as being very ‘macho’ or too eccentric/quirky, whereas those of the European tradition tend to be unafraid to dismantle the human condition or delve into the psyche and those of the Asian tradition have mastered the art of the surreal. I’m fully aware that I’m probably sitting here ‘typecasting’ authors based on their point of origin, but literature from different parts of the world is obviously going to be different and follow varied traditions — and ‘American literature,’ in general, has never held much appeal to me.
BUT, I have been trying to read past that and expand the general boundaries of my reading tastes. I’ve discovered a like for American female novelists, number one of whom is Nicole Krauss, and I’ve also discovered that I quite enjoy Janet Fitch, something I didn’t expect, and one of my reading goals for 2011 is to read more outside my comfort zone!