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283

What Makes You So Sure You're Not The Evil One Yourself?

on Alice Munro

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Alice Munro as a great, underrated Canadian writer. why he thinks she's underrated: her stories are all about storytelling pleasure (short stories, no less) and not about civics or history or anything

Franzen, J. (2012). What Makes You So Sure You're Not The Evil One Yourself?. In Franzen, J. Farther Away. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, pp. 283-296

288

[...] a high percentage of the most exciting fiction written in the last twenty-five years--the stuff I immediately mention if someone asks me what's terrific--has been short fiction. There's the Great One herself, naturally. There's also Lydia Davis, David Means, George Saunders, Amy Hempel, and the late Raymond Carver--all of them pure or nearly pure short-story writers--and then a larger group of writers who have achievements in multiple genres (John Updike, Joy Williams, David Foster Wallace, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Denis Johnson, Ann Beattie, William T. Vollmann, Tobias Wolff, Annie Proulx, Michael Chabon, Tom Drury, the late Andre Dubus) but who seem to me most at home, most undilutedly themselves, in their shorter work. There are also, to be sure, some very fine pure novelists. But when I close my eyes and think about literature in recent decades, I see a twilight landscape in which many of the most inviting lights, the sites that beckon me to return for a visit, are shed by particular short stories I've read.

—p.288 by Jonathan Franzen 5 years, 2 months ago

[...] a high percentage of the most exciting fiction written in the last twenty-five years--the stuff I immediately mention if someone asks me what's terrific--has been short fiction. There's the Great One herself, naturally. There's also Lydia Davis, David Means, George Saunders, Amy Hempel, and the late Raymond Carver--all of them pure or nearly pure short-story writers--and then a larger group of writers who have achievements in multiple genres (John Updike, Joy Williams, David Foster Wallace, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Denis Johnson, Ann Beattie, William T. Vollmann, Tobias Wolff, Annie Proulx, Michael Chabon, Tom Drury, the late Andre Dubus) but who seem to me most at home, most undilutedly themselves, in their shorter work. There are also, to be sure, some very fine pure novelists. But when I close my eyes and think about literature in recent decades, I see a twilight landscape in which many of the most inviting lights, the sites that beckon me to return for a visit, are shed by particular short stories I've read.

—p.288 by Jonathan Franzen 5 years, 2 months ago
296

Can a better kind of fiction save the world? There's always some tiny hope (strange things do happen), but the answer is almost certainly no, it can't. There is some reasonable chance, however, that it could save your soul. If you're unhappy about the hatred that's been unleashed in your heart, you might try imagining what it's like to be the person who hates you; you might consider the possibility that you are, in fact, the Evil One yourself; and, if this is difficult to imagine, then you might try spending a few evenings with the most dubious of Canadians. [...]

that being Alice Munro

—p.296 by Jonathan Franzen 5 years, 2 months ago

Can a better kind of fiction save the world? There's always some tiny hope (strange things do happen), but the answer is almost certainly no, it can't. There is some reasonable chance, however, that it could save your soul. If you're unhappy about the hatred that's been unleashed in your heart, you might try imagining what it's like to be the person who hates you; you might consider the possibility that you are, in fact, the Evil One yourself; and, if this is difficult to imagine, then you might try spending a few evenings with the most dubious of Canadians. [...]

that being Alice Munro

—p.296 by Jonathan Franzen 5 years, 2 months ago