I hate to say this but Mr.Franzen sounds just like an American Provincial. No particular insights on any important issue political,historical,philosophical just petulant chit chat. Mailer was driven by egotism and being the self-appointed heir to Hemingway, a collection of bellicose poses. Vidal was America’s man of letters and a very witty polemicist and consummate snob, but he managed to be insightful and funny. Bellow wrote the same novel again and again, with just the cast of characters being different: Herzog morphed, over time, into Ravelstein.
My favorite novelist is Graham Greene, he managed to write ‘entertainments’ as well as literary fiction, although not an American, he didn’t repeat himself. From Stamboul Train to Monsignor Quixote, each of his novels managed to compel the readers attention and respect. I’m sorry to say Mr.Franzen comports himself like an egoist with three best sellers to his credit. Ms. Kellaway did her homework, and seemed more like an admirer than an antagonist. She seemed congenial enough, but perhaps not enough to charm this boorish American literary lion.