Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Day I Insulted Jonathan Franzen

Went to hear Jonathan Franzen read from his new book Freedom tonight. Afterward a lengthy line for his signature, about 40 minutes, so I started to talk to the people in line around me and they all looked at me like I was crazy. We had nothing else to do so I started asking people if they had read the book - I figured we were all standing in line waiting for him.
No one had read the book.

Now I should preface this by saying I fell a little out of love with Franzen in his most recent book.  He came off arrogant sometimes, he bad-mouthed cats, he made all his female characters servile and mono-sylabic. He came into the reading with a leather jacket and a swagger and a part of me thought "This guy is the biggest blow-hard I've ever seen!" which may not have been true but was still on my mind as I approached the front of the line.
I'm not very good at hiding my feelings.

As I waited to approach him with mixed emotions, the woman in front of me was taking FOREVER and telling her life story. She closed with "All the best to you".
I thought "that sounds good" so as I walked up I repeated her line "All the best to you".
Franzen goes on the defensive, saying "She really meant it!" and I thought "This is starting well...."
So I said "Good!  I mean it too!" and he accused me of being sarcastic and mocking the woman. I said I wasn't mocking her as I wouldn't want his job anyway, talking to crazy strangers all day, and then I realized I had inadvertently mocked this woman some more and then I rambled for a while.
Franzen quickly signs my books with what looks like a circle instead of his name, no personalization, and says "Next!"
The pretty girl a couple in front of me got a doodle drawing and her name and everything, which kind of reinforced my "he's a douche" thing, but at the same time....
That didn't go how I planned.

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