Authors should realize that there is one important purpose for any reading: Charming the bookseller. These people have far more potential influence over the success of your book than any publicity outlet. If there's no bookseller there, I almost can't see any reason to do the event at all.
I don't see that being angry toward a suicide precludes a person from understanding that mental illness kills. I also don't see how being clinically depressed precludes a person from also being angry at those who are foolish enough to love and care about him and to act in a way that is deliberately hostile to that love. The truth is that all of these actions and situations are roiling with complex, contradictory emotions.
Given all that, I just don't see how people who are not and have never been intimates of the principles feel entitled to pronounce with so much authority on their "true" feelings and motivations. Franzen was Wallace's friend, not you. Maybe that's the real problem.
Franzen is good friends with DFW's wife, and much of the anger he has expressed about the suicide, specifically the part about "killing himself at home and making them firsthand witnesses to his act," is on her behalf. She was profoundly traumatized by the experience of finding his corpse and must live the rest of her life with the inevitable self-reproach that she might have been able to prevent his death. So: shut up you half-witted, hero-worshiping jackals.
Dave Wallace, for all his many fine qualities was indeed not a saint. The people who knew him knew a human being who could be as angry, bitter, insecure and caustic as any other writer, but backed with a supercharged intellect -- which made it worse. That wasn't all he was by a long stretch, but it was part of who he was, and it's gradually being erased by the posthumous Cult of Dave.
Think for a moment (if you are capable of the real thing, and not just the simulation of it): The real Dave Wallace was Franzen's friend, someone to whom he was close. He was a real person, complete with some real and large flaws. The person who is replacing that friend in the public imagination, Saint Dave, is erasing the memory of that real person. Consider the possibility that Franzen talks about his friend's flaws in public out of the desire to defend the memory of real Dave Wallace from the encroachments of Saint Dave and that you -- as people who do not know either party or anything much about their private lives -- simply do know what you are talking about.
You're right -- I keep forgetting how rational, sane and likable all of Cronenberg's characters are.
Actually, it's like comparing a better Brian de Palma film to Hitchcock, who is a super-ninja demigod of cultural supremitude and the high panjandrum of awesomeness -- so there!
Someone's never seen a David Cronenberg movie -- or wasn't paying attention when she did.
One argument on behalf of the Internet is that the comments for this post are about 10x smarter than the post itself. The differences between links and footnotes seem glaringly obvious to me, but the brain-change studies do kinda freak me out, if you take the trouble to actually look into them. The thing is, to read them (or any other scientific paper) you'd have to be able to follow a linear chain of thought for more than a page. To stick with the original poster's metaphor, if your long-haul reading/thinking muscles have atrophied while you've been beefing up your flitting-around, tab-management skills, then you, too, can totally miss the point and conclude it's all for the best in the best of all possible worlds. I'm not saying Carr's right, but I think to refute him you actually have to be able to grasp what he's saying in the first place. There's some wicked irony in the fact that this poster thinks she's used his own argument against him, when in reality she's providing more evidence that the ability to think analytically for any extended period of time may be withering away.