If the rest of the nation has made it their cause to extol Freedom with every last breath, then The New Republic seems to have taken the exact opposite approach. All signs point to them self-righteously bashing the novel until the conversation about it is over.
It began with a report in the Daily News that Ruth Franklin’s review of the novel would not be kind. It wasn’t — “This is the stuff of the MFA workshop,” she writes at one point — and the magazine joined the select few who were disappointed with the book, particularly annoyed with its conversational language and “soap opera” plot.
Yesterday, in the backlash or perceived backlash of this review, literary editor Leon Wieseltier has published a blog post defending the negative writeup, by defending critical reviews in general. The post actually touches on none of the book’s content, but equates the culture of positive reviews with careerist blurbing. “Has the book struck a chord Of course. But that is anthropology, not literature,” he writes.
Then, as if raising the stakes, Adam Kirsch posted an item about how one of the Jewish neoconservative characters in the book perpetuates the myth that “Jewish puppetmasters” led the country to its invasion of Iraq. How anthropologically topical!