I’d heard that the New Yorker excerpt was the opening of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom, but it turns out it is preceded in the novel by this: “The news about Walter Berglund wasn’t picked up locally–he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now–but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in Washington. His old neighbors had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times (‘arrogant,’ ‘high-handed,’ ‘ethically compromised’) with the generous, smiling, red-faced 3M employee they remembered pedaling his commuter bicycle up Summit Avenue in February snow; it seemed strange that Walter, who was greener than Greenpeace and whose own roots were rural, should be in trouble now for conniving with the coal industry and mistreating country people. Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds.”
Remember when Colson Whitehead wrote about his experiences at the World Series of Poker? Well, the Zone One author is back at it again, but this time with dispatches from London’s Olympic Village. I wonder if he’ll share any gossip about Vince Vaughn and the US Women’s Soccer team…
The upcoming Supreme Court decision on gay marriage is drawing a lot of attention. But what about the other ruling — the one aimed at grizzled old men? At The Onion, a report on Justice Alito’s recent decision, which tersely states that marriage is a pact between a man and the sea.
What happens if your town’s reputation was made by an author who hated it? Sinclair Lewis grew up in Sauk Centre, Minnesota and scathingly satirized it in Main Street (our Modern Library Revue of it), but it’s the town’s only claim to fame nearly a century later. At The Morning News, Matt Ray Robison visits.