I have no use for contemporary fiction. I don't care. 90% of the themes has been recycled 1000 times; surely I would rather read such a theme in a book time-tested through a hundred years and taught in universities. Less diluted. I have a million classic works of fiction I am behind on, so I don't need anybody excitingly passing along whatever flavor of the week you're passing around with your friends. Blech. This also includes memoirs of "whacky characters" a la Confederancy of Dunces, Running with Scissors et al. Reading people marveling about their own neuroses bores me.I'm pretty much in agreement with THIS FELLOW re: Franzen. Of course it might actually be the greatest book in the history of the world, I have no idea. As I've written before, I'm not a fan of contemporary fiction anyways, but my spidey senses always tingle whenever a book leaps SO totally into another stratosphere of reviews/everyone demanding "you have to read this!!!!!!" On one hand it's like music critics who just decide to write whatever the others are writing just cause it's easy (see the Strokes endless "Television meets Velvet Underground!" reviews from 2001 that surely came off a mimeograph machine...whatever the fuck that is.) And when these very books become the one book some people read every four years, my spidey senses tingle even more.
Obviously this says more about what an obstinate fuckwad I am than about Franzen, or contemporary literature or anything else. But, as Popeye said, "I yam what I yam." Okay fine if it shuts you up I'll read The French Lieutenant's Woman ;)
ps - I HAVE softened up a bit in the two+ years since I wrote that first bit, I did read A Confederacy of Dunces.