[P]eople ultimately only want to read about themselves. I’m taking this out of context from Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, but not injudiciously, I don’t think. I read it as his thesis statement, not just for this novel, but for his whole project with fiction. People want to read about themselves. If you accept that, and want to be read, then what you write about, in a way that makes them feel not just real, but hyper-real, are normal, everyday people. You just do that American Beauty thing with them, and ‘look closer.'
Freedom looks very, very close.
But first, as for why I’m reading Freedom slightly after it hit instead of right when it did, that’s just my own ridiculous prejudices. Give me a choice, and I’ll go horror, fantasy, science fiction, thriller, police procedural, western, noir, anything but the ‘literary’ shelves, please. If it’s got a superstructure, a prebuilt scaffolding, a set of conventions to adhere to or stray from, then I’m there. Or, to say it different: I resisted The Corrections for a good year, maybe more, just assumed it was another oversubtle White Teeth clone, but without White Teeth’s, I don’t know, rollickingness. But I did finally buy one at a garage sale in Little Rock for a dollar, with the idea that maybe a nuclear winter was going to hit sometime soon and I was going to regret not having bought up all the doorstop books I’d ever tripped over.