As I have said before, Jthan Franzen is a superb writer, a decent human being, very decent it seems at that. So one cant be but startled by: “David [FW] and I had a friendship of compare and contrast and (in a brotherly way) compete. A few years before he died, he signed my hardcover copies of his two most recent books. On the title page of one of them, I found the traced outline of his hand; on the title page of the other was an outline of an erection so huge that it ran off the page, annotated with a little arrow and the remark “scale 100%”. The size of a dicks’ (seemingly Foster Wallaces) outline imprinted on one of his books (see New Yorker for gory details) could be a defining moment for him?
Why in the world doesnt he shakes off his betise and be great? Why doesnt he dives unto genius and writes with his guts and edits with his brain (as a chick commented today at The Guardian; forgiv me i couldnt refind the article, maybe i dreamed). I had some expectations reading his Farther away at the NYorker. He almost came out. Almost. So here he was, in solitude, looking for a place on earth to face off the beast inside: he chooses Mas Afuera, an “island”, kinda big rock, in Juan Fernandez archipelago, Chilean waters.[one should respect original spellings: he spells Mas Afuera as Masafuera, which is awright, but say something]. In his way there he visited the dead DFWallaces’ wife Karen Green(?) who gives a quota of DFW ashes to be dispersed in Mas Afuera. Things are getting cheesy, but we are on course. He flies to Santiago, blablabla,[ no mention of the freaking tsunami that killed eight chilenos in Robinson Crusoe a sister archipelago island-if he was there afterwards], blabla and somewhere, sometime, the f. bomb:
” He [DFW] was sick, yes, and in a sense the story of my friendship with him is simply that I loved a person who was mentally ill. The depressed person then killed himself, in a way calculated to inflict maximum pain on those he loved most, and we who loved him were left feeling angry and betrayed. Betrayed not merely by the failure of our investment of love but by the way in which his suicide took the person away from us and made him into a very public legend. People who had never read his fiction, or had never even heard of him, read his Kenyon College commencement address in the Wall Street Journal and mourned the loss of a great and gentle soul.””…. not ourselves beyond it, could see that David was wrong not to believe in his lovability and could imagine the pain of not believing in it. How easy and natural love is if you are well!”
So you kill yourself to inflict maximum pain on others? You are wrong? Gimme a break.
As many in this country, Franzen has the strange notion that you manage your own mental illness. There are so many educated, well informed people, friends, scientists doctors that hold the view that you can manage your unbalance. Well yeah sometimes, obviousy when you kill yourself you are well beyond management. Gimme another break. Then, the Farther Away reflection sinks in stuff that you can read in the readers comments.
Yes, DFW was sick, so sick he killed himself. Thanks for telling us this Mr Franzen. Franzen: manup and write with your guts.
PS; Im appalled by Franzen and commentators lack of sensitivity with the people, the flora and fauna, and the geography in general of the Mas Afuera island: “poker face mule”, ‘bad chilean white bread'”, “low quality fish’? ‘Boring rock”? This is the stuff people in the island do, eat and live with and by. Show some fucking respect: capitalist imperialist pigs. I remind the US constituency that “boring” is between your ears. You are boring.