The library coughed up a copy of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel a lot faster than I expected, so I’m reading it. Is anybody else reading it, or finished reading it? I saw one or two rave reviews at first, then some revisionist commentary saying actually it’s a tad boring. I’m pretty much with the revisionists. It is interesting enough to keep reading, so far (I’m at p 224, less than halfway), but it’s also pretty boring, and at the moment it’s getting boringer.
It’s too much writing about too few people. There are really only three people so far, and 224 pages is a lot of pages for only three people unless the three people are very damn interesting, and these three people are not. Now, Joyce could do that – but he made the people interesting. That can be done, but you have to do it. Franzen hasn’t done it – not enough. It is as mentioned interesting enough from page to page (as so many many many contemporary novels are not), but when you’re not reading it and you look back over what you have read – it seems like a lot of reading for the not very exciting lives of three not very exciting people. It seems a bit of a waste.