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Receiving extremely positive reviews and a high initial order, Franzen looked forward to achieving his goal of releasing a critically acclaimed work of “high art” that would engage his target audience.
Major Works The title The Twenty-Seventh City takes root in the fact that St.
Louis was once the fourth-largest city in America, later falling to twenty-seventh.
While continuing his association with The New Yorker, Franzen retreated to an office to focus attention on minor characters he was creating.
After deciding that a scene about an elderly couple on a cruise ship was perhaps the finest writing of his career, he abandoned other work in progress and began laboring in near-seclusion on The Corrections.
Using the royalties from The Twenty-Seventh City, Franzen and Cornell traveled throughout Europe and hoped to mend their relationship.
While in Europe, Franzen began work on Strong Motion.While he initially accepted the honor, Franzen found himself growing increasingly uncomfortable with certain business details—particularly the presence of the “O” sticker on the book's jacket that indicated it was the latest Oprah selection.In several interviews after the nationally broadcast unveiling, Franzen publicly expressed his discomfort with associating his work with Oprah's “corporate logo,” as well as insinuating that his book might prove to be beyond the comprehension of a typical reader.Upon returning home, he married a fellow writer, Valerie Cornell, and took a weekend job at Harvard University.Franzen and Cornell spent the next few years dedicating themselves to the creation and enjoyment of literature, an existence Franzen generally characterizes as nearly idyllic despite their difficult financial situation.The Twenty-Seventh City is an exploration of deep intrigues with myriad plot twists. Louis, city leaders hire Susan Jammu, an American-born cousin of Indian leader Indira Gandhi, to head the police force.However, Jammu comes to the job with her own agenda that remains nebulous until the conclusion of the book.Franzen challenges himself to write a “big, social novel” that would engage the American public enough to motivate them, encourage debate, and open conversations about social issues.Reaction to the article was relatively mild, but earned Franzen a reputation among critics as a high-minded but pretentious writer.The ensuing spat prompted Winfrey to withdraw her invitation to him to appear on her show, further spreading the belief among critics that Franzen is a haughty, self-important literary elitist.Franzen apologized for misrepresenting his intent in interviews, claiming that he was unaccustomed to the level of attention that came with being recognized by Winfrey.