is especially impressed by the much
. From Slate:
We might expect Marcus to point out that Franzen's essay is a caricature of this very old debate, and that in other contexts Franzen has shown himself to be extremely reluctant to label himself a popular author—notably, his confessed ambivalence at having been named an Oprah writer. Instead, Marcus treats us to a humorless diatribe, as if he and Franzen had invented their respective positions and were obliged to defend them like nuggets of newly panned gold. Dismissing The Corrections as "a retreat into the comforts of a narrative style that was already embraced by the culture," he claims that Franzen has become a public advocate against "literature as an art form, against the entire concept of artistic ambition." Most curiously, he blames Franzen for putting the small publisher FC2 in jeopardy with the NEA by writing a New Yorker "Talk of the Town" piece in which he mistakes a package from FC2 for a bomb. We'd all like to think that a novelist's 300-word anecdote could prompt a congressional hearing. But to make this kind of claim seriously is to betray a certain willful paranoia. It's as if Marcus just can't resist playing David to Franzen's Goliath.