Jonathan Franzen, malcontent literary genius, travels home for the holiday.
GATHERING WITH FAMILY
Mom: Jonathan! It’s been almost a year since we’ve seen you, Mr. Great American Novelist!
Jonathan Franzen: Have you ever considered what is really at the heart of the nuclear family?
Jonathan Franzen: Acrimony.
WATCHING LOVE ACTUALLY
Sister: Hey everyone, Love Actually is on Netflix!
Jonathan Franzen: This movie received bad reviews when it came out.
Sister: This movie is a Christmas classic.
Jonathan Franzen: It’s entirely unrealistic. People don’t “fall in love.”
CHRISTMAS EVE MASS
Priest: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Jonathan Franzen: I challenge everyone here to consider the devastating effects of overpopulation.
CHATTING OVER EGGNOG
Aunt: And how have you been, sweetie?
Jonathan Franzen: To quote my National Book Award-nominated novel Freedom, ‘I guess my life hasn’t always been happy, or easy, or exactly what I wanted. At a certain point, I just have to try not to think too much about certain things, or else they’ll break my heart.’
SNOW FALLS SILENTLY ON A PEACEFUL TOWN
Jonathan Franzen: Looks like I’m going to be the one to scrape this off the car in the morning-
Sister: Jonathan, please.
Jonathan Franzen: – since we all know Dad has become too physically frail to do it.
Mom: It’s Jonathan’s turn to open one!
Jonathan Franzen unwraps present, stares at it
Mom: It’s Wild by Cheryl Strayed! It’s the reason Oprah re-started her book club!
Jonathan Franzen sighs very, very slowly
Mom: They just made a big movie of it and it looks like Reese Witherspoon might win the Oscar. Oh Johnny – you should have had her in your Corrections pilot! Then maybe HBO wouldn’t have passed on –
Jonathan Franzen: I’m not interested in popular storytelling, MOM.
JUST NORMAL TALKING AS ANY HUMAN WOULD DO
Jonathan Franzen: The model of new technology is mindless addiction. Twitter is the ultimate irresponsible medium!
Grocery Cashier: Listen man, are you gonna buy these six boxes of Grape Nuts or what?
Jonathan Franzen: Yes. Grape Nuts are my favorite food.
SLIGHTLY SENTIMENTAL PARTING
Jonathan Franzen: I’ve learned something from spending this past week with my family: the true meaning of Christmas.
Jonathan Franzen: It’s consumerism.
Blythe Roberson is a writer living in NYC, baby. She’s on twitter @blythelikehappy.