Early Wednesday, n+1, beloved magazine of the internet intelligentsia, published novelist Nell Zink’s mocking and joyful review of Jonathan Franzen’s upcoming novel, Purity. By mid-afternoon, the contents of the article were replaced by this note: “This page is temporarily unavailable. Return to the n+1 homepage or read more by Nell Zink. —The Editors.”
While the headline, deck, and Zink’s byline remain, the review—which contained references to Goethe and Andrei Platonov, as well as a comical comparison of Purity and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess—is gone with no explanation. (Luckily, there’s a cached version here.)
Among Zink’s deleted observations:
Anyway, why am I reviewing the new Jonathan Franzen? Doesn’t he get enough publicity already? Sure! But publicity is not the same as selling books. Plenty of people think his books are no fun. And it’s true, they’re mostly dense, discomfiting portrayals of disappointing people. But Purity is fun, because the girl, Purity (“Pip”), is nice—like Goethe’s Gretchen, a.k.a. the Eternal Feminine that motivates all good acts. Goethe’s model was the Catholic cult of Mary. Scholars of religion have often remarked on her uniqueness. She’s the only deity ever (admit it, Catholics—she’s a goddess!) who demands no propitiation. She hands out goodness and mercy like candy. Pip even has an Immaculate Conception of sorts, arising from rough bareback anal. I’m serious. Pip is conceived via anal sex during which her mother feels no pleasure whatsoever.
In all likelihood, Zink’s post was taken down because of an embargo. Purity is set for a September 1, 2015 release date, making a July review—even one with few spoilers—very premature. But without an explanation from n+1 (I’ve reached out for comment and they have yet to respond), our imaginations are allowed to run wild.
Did Franzen demand the article taken down because he didn’t like that Zink said that his books are no fun? Or because she, in another paragraph, makes fun of his precious birds? Did the reviewer fail to demonstrate a “firm little clitoris of discernment” when she chose to mention Franzen’s protagonist conception through anal, as opposed to one of the novel’s other cringeworthy sex scenes? The possibilities are limitless.
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