Protect the Free Library from the Enemies of Experimental Literature
I write today to alert the people of Philadelphia, and the people of every other great American city, that if author Jonathan Franzen is scheduled to come and give a reading at or near your city library – watch your Gaddis.
Mr. Franzen has gone on record in the sharp and glossy pages of The New Yorker and in speeches given abroad declaring himself the enemy of writers like the late William Gaddis, who wrote experimental literature. As true Americans who believe in literary freedom, it is our duty to ensure that whenever Franzen visits an American library he is allowed only to sell his books, read his stuff, and make some money. He cannot be allowed to carry out any other actions in his role as a declared enemy of experimental writing.
To prevent this, I ask that during Franzen’s book tour stop on the 23rd of September at the Philadelphia Free Library we consider placing numerous husky guards in the “G” section where books by William Gaddis are shelved. This will deter Franzen and his buddies from replacing copies of Gaddis’s novels “The Recognitions,” “J R,” “A Frolic of His Own,” and especially “Agapē Agape” with copies of field guides to songbirds, or copies of Time magazine with Franzen on the cover.
Additional guards may also be needed during Franzen’s visit to protect the safety of works by various other writers, like James Joyce, Diane Williams, Samuel R. Delany, and the folks who brought us the Book of Revelation. If the Free Library cannot afford more guards, a volunteer force of private citizens could be mustered in Philadelphia in short time, provided that there are no professional football games, baseball games, soccer games, golf tournaments, tennis matches, amateur singing or catfish noodling competitions being televised or webcast when Franzen is in town.
The staff team of the Free Library and our loyal Mayor Nutter should also stand watch against another wily tactic Franzen may employ: The strategic donation of a dozen copies of his fat novels “The Corrections” and “Freedom” in attempt to displace experimental writing from the shelves of the Free Library.
We as free citizens demand access to any and all works of experimental literature. Let us decide if they are honest and vital, not only in Philadelphia, but in all the cities where Franzen plans to stop on his nation-wide book tour. Be vigilant, you in San Francisco, you in Seattle, in Portland, Los Angeles, Saints Paul and Louis, Kansas City, the District of Columbia, Cleveland, Miami, and New York. Let not the opinions of Franzen and his ilk molest our enjoyment of Gaddis or any other brave experimental writer.
It would also be prudent to protest Franzen’s tour at every stage with public readings of works of experimental literature, so that as he mounts the steps leading to the public sanctuaries of our vast literature he is compelled to have echo in his very ears the voices he has so mightily disparaged and tried to silence.
I thank you for considering this humble proposal to protect our nation’s literary resources from the enemies of experimental literature. Long live literary freedom and long live the Free Library!
Citizen of Western Philadelphia
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania