We visited Jonathan Franzen at his California home, where he shared his approach to writing character-driven novels and his thoughts on being a writer in America: "I play for 'Team Literature' and so I'm on the lookout for things that threaten the team."
The fact is the digital train has already long left the station and we, those of us who call ourselves writers and artists, have an obligation to get on board so we might impact the nature of the trip.
Literary novels like The Marriage Plot and Freedom that reach a broad a readership are rare cultural opportunities to create dialogue about the societies represented within, the people represented within, and the women represented within.
"Almost the definition of a mensch, a good person, is that in their heart of hearts they're rather hard on themselves. And yet, you can't get out of bed in the morning if you don't love yourself. I'm merciless towards myself, so being merciless towards my characters comes naturally."
Almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren't so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment's rest.
For all those tired of debating who is a "real" American and to whom Constitutional rights apply, and don't, the feud between literary star Jonathan Franzen and bestselling novelists Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult is a welcome distraction.