Well, pat me on the head: I finished Purity. And although I think it’s a hot mess of a book, it did feature the finest butt pun in Franzen’s oeuvre. This well-executed pun occurs early in the novel, on page 30 to be exact, when Pip is still working as a telemarketer at Renewable Solutions (before she gets involved with the German hacker and the psychosexual drama and the silly dude rivalry and the billion dollar heiress thing, etc. etc.).
For her job, Pip has to make calls and guess who’s still on her list? That’s right, it’s Mr. Dennis Butcavage.
Spoiler alert! Here’s the passage in full:
She put on her headset and forced herself to look at her call sheet again and cursed the self she’d been an hour earlier, before lunch, because this earlier self had cherry-picked the sheet, leaving the names GUTTENSCHWERDER, ALOYSIUS and BUTCAVAGE, DENNIS for after lunch. Pip hated the hard names, because mispronouncing them immediately alienated the consumer, but she gamely clicked Dial. A man at the Butcavage residence answered with a gruff hello.
“Hiiiiii,” she said in a sultry drawl into which she’d learned to inject a note of apology, of shared social discomfort. “This is Pip Tyler, with Renewable Solutions, and I’m following up on a mailing we sent you a few weeks ago. Is this Mr. Butcavage?”
“Boocavazh,” the man corrected gruffly.
“So sorry, Mr. Boocavazh.”
And here’s my ink-on-computer paper rendering of this dramatic, pivotal scene:
Purity: Great American Novel or Greatest American Novel?
All proceeds from the sale of this work of art will go to support the Jonathan Franzen Blue Cerulean Warbler Charity Foundation.