How many authors of commercial fiction do you know who get huge, glowing profiles in the New Yorker?
Well, Jennifer Weiner just did, as she continues to ride her successful hobbyhorse about not getting respect. When she even feels attacked by literary novelists like Claire Messud, this author of commercial fiction can say "as a reader and a writer, I was out of step, out of fashion."
Let's lay out some facts. Weiner isn't out of step with anything, and she is totally in fashion. Her first book is in its 57th printing. That's right, 57th. As the New Yorker notes, "Weiner's books have spent two hundred and forty-nine weeks on the Times best-seller list." Over fourteen thousand readers on Goodreads have reviewed her latest novel. Weiner has also made millions from her books, and more than one of them was turned into a movie.
She's also generated massive publicity by complaining that women writers like her don't get the same amount of review coverage that men writers do. And she acts as if she's somehow an under dog. Here's her commenting on having become embedded in our cultural conversation about publishing and reviewing after Jonathan Franzen in The Guardian decried the role of social media and
made a reference to 'Jennifer Weiner-ish self-promotion.' Weiner says that her reaction was 'eighty per cent indignation and twenty per cent 'Holy shit, Jonathan Franzen knows who I am.' "
Really? After she's mentioned Franzen repeatedly as an example of literary male privilege?
It's not surprising that the New Yorker finds her charming and funny; Weiner has cannily become the Rodney Dangerfield of publishing in her complaints about not getting enough respect. Make no mistake, she is writing royalty, wealthy and famous, but that's apparently not enough for her.
And in case you're wondering? No, I haven't enjoyed her books, but then I'd say the same thing about Jonathan Franzen's.
Lev Raphael is the author of twenty-four books in genres from memoir to mystery. He is a visiting assistant professor of fiction writing and crime literature at Michigan State University.