It's not a book I hate, but it is one that I'm tired of reader’s reference as a "masterpiece": The Corrections, by the currently over exposed Jonathan Franzen. It was a padded family tragi-comedy that would sit well next to John Cheever’s two Wapshot books and John Updike's quartet of Rabbit novels without embarrassment, but there is something worked over in the writing.
I had read How to Be Alone a few years later, his memoir/ essay collection where he writes movingly of the passing of his parents and the clash of his youthful idealism becoming tempered by the undisclosed facts of Life; but the poignancy seemed a matter of effect, of a certain manipulation of the narrative points; his telling in the memoir read as if this were one of his novels. The bleakness was too literary for comfort; not that I think Franzen dressed up his own memories, but it occurs to me that he has made a decision to treat his life like it were bleak comedy whose last chapter had yet to be written. I understand this, somewhat. I used to wallow in my depressions and despairs and exaggerate the hurts and aches that befell me, knowing this gave me ample material to write about. I lucked out, however, as even I became bored with the style and tone I inflicted on countless pieces of typing paper. Franzen has lucked out as well; he managed to get paid.