Sex causes lots of problems for Franzen’s characters. By our count, Freedom featured 94 different references to the word “sex,” including this passage: “One hesitates to ascribe too much explanatory significance to sex, and yet the autobiographer would be derelict in her duties if she didn’t devote an uncomfortable paragraph to it.”
There is something so satisfying in seeing established white male authors called out for bad sex writing. It makes me gleeful. I recently had to put down Paul Auster's new novel after reaching a scene in which it is explained that the the book's 28-year-old narrator is having a relationship with a 17-year-old who, though ostensibly bright and college-bound, refers to her asshole as her "funny hole" and her vagina as her "mommy hole." Seriously.