Thursday, August 19, 2010

More than "Nothing Left to Lose"

I adored these lines in Sam Anderson's New York magazine review of Freedom, Jonathan Franzen's new novel:

Few modern novelists rival Franzen in that primal skill of creating life, of tricking us into believing that a text-generated set of neural patterns, a purely abstract mind-event, is in fact a tangible human being that we can love, pity, hate, admire, and possibly even run into someday at the grocery store. His characters are so densely rendered—their mental lives sketched right down to the smallest cognitive micrograins—that they manage to bust through the art-reality threshold: They hit us in the same place that our friends and neighbors and classmates and lovers do.
YES. I LOVE "text-generated [sets] of neural patterns" that make me believe they're real. I also loved The Corrections, and clearly at some point I'm going to have to read Freedom (she says, glancing guiltily at A. S. Byatt's The Children's Book sitting untouched on the Grown-Up Books shelf . . .).

While we're talking freedom, I think that any politicians who would like to express opinions about the relative positions of certain kinds of New York City real estate should be forced to live in the city for six months before doing so. New Yorkers are a diverse group, and thus we know that getting along in such close proximity requires letting others exercise their rights so we can exercise ours; living and let living; remembering without fetishizing; and frequently, shutting up and not being stupid. Would that certain politicians could learn the same.


  1. Hey Brooklyn,
    If you're interested in how text and stories generate neural patterns, you might want to take a look at my blog posts Narrative and the Brain and Storytellers and how they force their brain activation on their audience

  2. This is exactly what I loved about "The Corrections"; Franzen's characters are not often "likeable", but they are thoroughly understandable and often lovable.