Friday, October 08, 2010

Jonathan Franzen's Glasses Taken for Ransom

This story is just too fun to ignore.

Unless you've been living in a cave, you've heard all the hoopla over the release of Jonathan Franzen's novel Freedom. The book was greeted with critical acclaim along with some snarky comments by female authors who were angry over all the attention paid to Franzen's "literary" book while their books about "families and feelings" are dismissed as commercial fiction or women's fiction.

Earlier this week, Franzen's visit to the UK to promote Freedom turned bizarre. On Monday night, the Serpentine Gallery hosted a party to introduce Franzen to London.

According to Tuesday's The Bookseller :
Around 8pm, two men, claiming to work for Puffin, gatecrashed the party at the Serpentine Gallery and approached Franzen. One snatched his glasses and escaped, before the other handed the stunned author a ransom note and also fled into Kensington Gardens.

The note read: "$100,000 - Your glasses are yours again!" and left a Hotmail address.
The Bookseller went on to assure readers that the glasses had been rescued. Police chased the fleeing thieves and later discovered the one who had the purloined specs hiding in some bushes.

The fact that Franzen had his glasses back didn't stop the jokesters. A pair of glasses appeared in an eBay auction here Monday night.

Publishers Weekly made me laugh out loud with this paragraph:
Franzen’s Twitter doppelganger, @EmperorFranzen has a practical Tweet for the thief: “TO THE THIEF WHO STOLE MY GLASSES: I need them back to read your friggin’ ransom note. Idiot.”
But the capper was the article that popped up on on Wednesday. The thief, "a 27-year-old postgrad from Liverpool, currently studying computational aerospace design at Imperial College London," James Fletcher, gave GQ an interview.

Fletcher explained how he and a friend gatecrashed the party with "a bit of wavy hand rhetoric." After he'd ingested "excessive champagne," Fletcher decided the party was terribly dull and "decided to do something."
I'd mentioned several times to my accomplice how much I admired Franzen's frames and thought that they deserved to be the subject of a hostage-ransom situation. After getting a pen from the bar staff and some paper I devised a short ransom note and we vaguely mentioned to some of the guests what my intentions were. Without thinking about it for too long, I planned my escape route and then passed the ransom note along to be delivered to the victim once I'd made my move.
Fletcher then goes on to describe in detail his abortive efforts to elude capture. Go here to read it.

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