Jonathan Franzen’s “Readers”

Jonathan Franzen
Novelist/essayist Jonathan Franzen. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

“Most of the people who have complaints with me aren’t reading me,” says Jonathan Franzen, but he’s a process guy. He doesn’t read anything by his readers. They could write the book on reading him, but he wouldn’t read it and neither would they.

In The New York Times MagazineTaffy Brodesser-Akner profiles Franzen profiling his haters, who he’s fine with:

People can think something about you that isn’t true, and it isn’t necessarily your job to correct them. And if you do correct them, the corrections will eat up your entire life, and then where is your life? What did you do? You don’t have to answer criticism of yourself. You don’t even have to listen to it. You don’t have to fit your thoughts into sound bites just because of character limitations.

Has anyone considered that the interaction is the fragility? Has anyone considered that letting other people define how you fill your day and what they fill your head with — a passive, postmodern stream of other people’s thoughts — is the fragility?

Right at that minute, I wanted what he had so badly that I would have drunk his blood right there in the arboretum to get it.

Here is another thing about birds: They don’t care about people. They don’t interact with them, and yet they are totally accurate seismographs for people’s behavior. They reflect us without coming anywhere near us.

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