“Let Franzen Ring,” my sour review of Freedom, appears in the December issue of Commentary. In it, I try to assign Franzen a place in the ranks to which he belongs, among maestros of “midcult” like John Steinbeck, John Hersey, Irwin Shaw, Herman Wouk, MacKinlay Kantor, Allen Drury, Harper Lee, William Styron, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., John Irving, Elizabeth Kostova, and David Wroblewski.
Yesterday I happened to be reading Alfred Chester’s bloodcurdling critique of J. D. Salinger (also published in Commentary), and I stumbled upon a passage that makes the point that I was trying to make against Franzen, and does so far more sharply:
 Alfred Chester, “J. D. Salinger,” in Looking for Genet: Literary Essays and Reviews, ed. Edward Field (Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow, 1992), p. 79. Originally published as “Salinger: How to Love without Love” in Commentary (June 1963).