In case you missed it, earlier this week, the novelist Jonathan Franzen wrote a letter to the New York Times in which he rebutted Frank Bruni’s column “Sexism’s Puzzling Stamina.” In publishing a riposte in the paper of record, the “Corrections” novelist follows in the footsteps of Jerry Seinfeld, who wrote a scathing response to Neil Genzlinger’s diatribe on the overuse of “really.”
But whereas Seinfeld’s letter was – unsurprisingly – amusing, Franzen’s was out-of-left-field odd:
There may still be gender imbalances in the world of books, but very strong numbers of women are writing, editing, publishing and reviewing novels. The world most glaringly dominated by male sexism is one that Mr. Bruni neglects to mention: New York City theater.
Our favorite part of the letter is the description of Franzen below his name: "The writer is the novelist." Yes, the emphasis is added, but that's surely how Franzen sees himself.
As I’ve written before, Franzen has had his own troubles with prominent women, feuding with Oprah and calling Times book critic Michiko Kakutani “the stupidest person in New York.” In addition, he maligned Edith Wharton’s looks in the pages of the New Yorker, speculating about her “sexless” marriage.