really nicely put. i read an interview with franzen when he spoke about tone before, i believe, but the way he talked about it helping to make uncomfortable subjects digestible -- that being a thrilling place to be as a writer (and a reader) -- struck me. if i think of evelyn waugh, philip roth, salinger, maugham, o'connor, welty -- some of my personal favorites, i think it works. i wish i had a question, but for the time being, i'll just savor franzen's answer...