Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dear Jonathan Franzen

I interrupt these regularly scheduled Governor Ducey letters to bring you a letter to Jonathan Franzen. This letter has the same or possibly even less of a chance being responded to, but I am not Franzen's constituent, just his reader so he is not implied-obligated to respond. But still! I wouldn't look a response horse in the mouth.

Dear Jonathan Franzen,

I just finished your book "Freedom" which I read only because of your smart article in the New Yorker about how the seeming-impossible-to-stop-global-warming-environmental issue occludes the small, possibly fixable environmental issue. I loved that essay because it was smart and I hated it because you did in a shorter time what I tried to do in a whole book of tiny essays interrupting longer essays to show how the small thing is probably the only way to do the big thing but you said it smart and fast which is an excellent way to make a point--something I will perhaps look into at the end of this sentence.

So I liked Freedom. It was fine. Not fast but smart and to the point. A little silly, which is good. But I have a few questions.

1. I had just recently gotten off my overpopulation kick and you plunged me right back into it. It has been easier, not seething at the number of children per family since I had a number of children of my own. Hypocrisy is a great opiate and opium makes some people quiet and I stopped complaining out loud or even in my head about the number of children people had. I also live in a place other than Utah, which helps by not being the main place where families of eight kids or more are not only acceptable but desirable. But then I read Freedom and now I'm all back in my overpopulation angst and I ask you if whispering under my breath, "Bye planet" when the family of 8 or 10 or even just 4 kids walks by is a) passive aggressive, b) plain aggressive, c) pointless, or d) subtly making a difference? (I'm guessing a, b, and c but not d. I do wish "passive aggressive" was a viable political action. It's the small things! I would win.)

2. Why is only one of the points of view from a woman and none of them from a person of color? I very much like the different points of view novel and think that's the way to make a novel that hopes to show multiple points of view is the better political solution than passive aggression. But although I know there are 2 men to every 1 woman in the world and only four people of color, in your book, there are 3 main female characters and 3 main male characters and one of the women is a woman of color but only 1 woman gets a point of view at all. I guess that is how the world works but part the smart and fast point of Freedom is to show how the world should be. Or maybe not? Maybe that was the slow point.

3. And, finally, oh the cat guilt. I shouldn't let my two new cats outside. I only do for a minute. Maybe an hour. A couple hours at most, unless I can't corral them in. I didn't know house cats killed 350,000,000 song birds a year! I put bells on them! They haven't killed even a lizard or a moth yet. I'm making them stay inside now--for their sake and the birds. But the cat named Zane is meowing and he really wants to go out and if he stays inside, he attacks the girl cat (point of Freedom?) and eats my plants. Can you really buy a bird-no-eat bib for a cat to wear when he goes outside? Where can I get one? If you get this letter, will you send me one?

4. If you have a minute, can you send a note to Governor Ducey? Your essays are fast and smart. Maybe it will only take one letter from you to explain how an educated public can maybe save the world from global warming, overpopulation, and the extinction of the song bird. I think one letter from you, sans the passive aggressive tone I sometimes take, might be the ticket. We just need 130,000,000 dollars back. Fewer dollars than the number of song birds killed a year! A reachable goal. A small step toward a world that should be.


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Nik said...

You, commenter, are not Jonathan Franzen.