Jonathan Franzen tells NPR about his stolen glasses
Mercy, this has got to be the silliest book story in a long time. But our friends at NPR are covering it, and they are serious, smart people, so here goes: At a book party in London, somebody ran up and stole Jonathan Franzen's glasses.
Maybe it's because it is so silly. Maybe it's because the pilfering was followed by a fleeing -- the person who'd taken the glasses ran away and leapt a rather high fence. And I haven't even gotten to the ransom note!
Franzen explains the glasses-snatching to NPR: "Somebody shouted, 'Channel 4, Channel 4,' and grabbed the glasses from my face, and took off running, and I actually thought, because I was suddenly blind, I thought it was my editor, warning me that Channel 4, from the BBC, had arrived. So, I trotted after this person, and knew something was amiss only when I saw him leap a five-foot fence and disappear into the trees."
While the thief was hidden away, a ransom note was delivered by someone else to a colleague of Franzen's. The note read (someone other than Jonathan Franzen, who was glasses-less, read it) that the glasses would be returned for 100,000 -- oh, either pounds or dollars, depending on which account you read. Either way, 100,000 is a lot for a pair of glasses.
With concerns for the thief's safety -- some were worried that his escape might have led him into the nearby Serpentine lake -- police arrived, and a helicopter flew overhead. The perpetrator was caught.
Franzen is not pressing charges. "I've been laughing about the whole thing," he tells NPR, "and observing the anguish secondhand."
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Jonathan Franzen in September in Los Angeles, where wearing glasses is still safe. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times