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Re: John Updike versus Jon Franzen

From: CAP
Date: 19 Sep 2010
Time: 07:46:44 -0500


Franzen wants Updike's eye for anecdote, maybe, but Vonnegut's sense of structure (and the absurd). It's that stoic, stubborn, mid-westerner bravely facing the ravages of time, glancing back across at Europe with a jaundiced eye, and shrugging at Amerika, that's 'got it all' for him. I slot him in just behind John Irving. But Jon hasn't quite been through Kurt's private firestorm, doesn't really have Irving or Updike's love of romping story-telling. He is a kinder, gentler man for it, but duller into the bargain. He's good on ecology! But that doesn't quite do it on its own. His grasp of science and history is probably better than Vonnegut's, but he's never really ruthless enough in the conclusions he draws there. When it's all said and done, he's basically a conservative, like Irving, but without the sexual charge running through his political correctness. He's a careful observer, unfortunately from an indifferent vantage point.