The voice of his generation has spoken again, giving readers a veritable golden shower of wisdom. Among the highlights:

And in a new interview with the Guardian, the “Purity” author offers up plenty of fodder for his critics, telling writer Emma Brockes that he once considered adopting an Iraqi war orphan to understand young people better.

“Oh, it was insane, the idea that Kathy [his partner] and I were going to adopt an Iraqi war orphan. The whole idea lasted maybe six weeks,” Franzen explained. “One of the things that had put me in mind of adoption was a sense of alienation from the younger generation. They seemed politically not the way they should be as young people. I thought people were supposed to be idealistic and angry. And they seemed kind of cynical and not very angry. At least not in any way that was accessible to me.”

One can only imagine the fights when the kid hit his or her—check that, it’s Franzen, and he was interested in fodder for this writing, so his—teens. “You’re not my real father!” “I know! My real son would have something more trenchant to say!” “I wish I’d never been born!” “I wish you were more amusing!”

Fortunately for Franzen (and, presumably, unfortunately for the war orphan he decided against adopting), he found a better alternative:

Fortunately, his New Yorker editor Henry Finder had a simpler solution — introducing Franzen to some university graduates. “It cured me of my anger at young people,” Franzen said.


And, given the demographics of your average college, they were almost certainly much closer to the kinds of people Franzen likes to read and write about. Plus it’s a lot cheaper and less time-consuming than raising a kid.

Hey, how about those charges of sexism?

Franzen also addressed the long-running assertion that he is a misogynist, saying: “I’m not a sexist. I am not somebody who goes around saying men are superior, or that male writers are superior. In fact, I really go out of my way to champion women’s work that I think is not getting enough attention. None of that is ever enough. Because a villain is needed. It’s like there’s no way to make myself not male.”


He added, “I respect all females.” Still, though, I’m less than convinced by that last part. I mean, I get it—men are treated like crap in American society, but even though we are literally victimized on a daily basis, I think there’s more to it than just that. Hey, how about that Oprah thing?

“I think the fact that I was a white guy made that harder,”

Ah, the mot juste. Godspeed, Franzen. You are a font of wisdom, and I am in no way annoyed that every time you open your mouth, it makes it that much harder to tell people that I enjoyed The Corrections.