1. “The Republic of Bad Taste.” The New Yorker publishes and excerpt from Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.
“His own fall from grace served as his credential with the kids. Their problem was that they took things too seriously (self-destructive behavior was itself a form of self-importance), and his message to them was always, in effect, ’Look at me. My father’s on the Central Committee and I’m living in a church basement, but do you ever see me serious?’ The message was effective, but it shouldn’t have been, because, in truth, he was scarcely less privileged for living in a church basement. He’d severed all contact with his parents as a twenty-one-year-old, in 1981, but in return for this favor they protected him. He hadn’t even been arrested for the ’subversive’ prank he’d played on the Republic’s leading literary magazine, the way any of his at-risk charges would have been. But they couldn’t help liking him and responding to him, because he spoke the truth, and they were hungry to hear it. The girls practically lined up outside his office door to drop their pants for him, and this, too, of course, was ironic. He rendered a valuable service to the state, coaxing antisocial elements back into the fold, and was paid for his service in teen pussy.”