More Franzen v. Wallace

A rough transcript of Franzen’s remarks vis a vis Wallace’s cruise ship.

Franzen: David and I disagreed on that.
Remnick: David?
Franzen: Dave Wallace, yeah.
Remnick: So Wallace felt well —
Franzen: Yeah, cause he —
Remnick: He said it was okay to make up dialogue on a cruise ship?
Franzen: For instance, yeah. Uhhmmm…
Remnick: I’m heartbroken to hear it.
Franzen: I know, I know. No, those things didn’t actually happen. Umm, you notice he never published any non-fiction in your magazine.
Remnick: Not for want of trying but that’s another matter, but but…
Franzen: He would have had to, maybe he…
Remnick: He would have fell before the fact-checkers.
Franzen: I think the fact-checkers… and to me the uh fact-checkers, we, uh, I’m so afraid of fact checkers.
Remnick: Good. [laughs]

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I guess Franzen’s still upset he’s not ever going to be known as the Greatest Writer of His Generation. That’s the only explanation for why he’s being so petty.

It does nothing for me to diminish DFW’s essays, though I don’t understand why Franzen felt the need to “reveal” this.

I thought is New Yorker article from earlier this year was almost a takedown of DFW, but one guised in tough-love friendship. But I gave Franzen the benefit of the doubt just because I assumed it was his way of dealing with grief. Now I’m not so sure.

yes, i heard this exchange. i thought it was funny, but also couldn’t help thinking that it was very much the nyer’s loss that they didn’t publish dfw’s “non”fiction. it’s some of his very best writing, and anyone who can read must know that you don’t quote whole conversations verbatim in that sort of essay — it’s patched together and re-remembered. who cares? i’m not sure what franzen’s point was — he admitted he’s a terribly lazy researcher.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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