Whether he’s writing about birding, reading, media, the Internet, the American novel, his past as an angry young man or his present as a misanthrope trying to learn to relax the tendons in his neck, Mr. Franzen lumbers rather than strides. In part, this is because he’s a solipsist and a declinist, a neo-Luddite in inclination if not in name, and things are habitually going to hell all around him.
This seems harsh to me, but I do agree (generally) that Franzen’s fiction is better than his nonfiction. (And Garner is right: Freedom was a fantastic novel.) Franzen’s new book, The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus is a collection of translated essays with commentary.