Why not call it essays?
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: His Oprah snub and its subsequent mishandlings and fallout positioned him as an intellectual climber, a self-aggrandizer, a snob.
So it's interesting that few writers today have a writerly persona more engaging and more subdued than that of Jonathan Franzen, who often comes across as timid and endearingly goofy. In The Discomfort Zone, we have six stand-alone personal essays that bring us closer to unlocking the mystery of Franzen, a man who seems to simultaneously think too much and too little of himself.
I'll begin, then, with the obvious questions: Yes, Franzen's mother, with her desperation for the middle, her conservative notions of propriety, and her upbeat resilience in the face of obstacles, resembles the fictitious Enid.
Franzen's father, the railroad engineer slipping into dementia, the deeply private man forever mumbling, "I don't understand any of this," is obviously Alfred. What is more interesting is how the opening essay of this collection mirrors the opening of Franzen's novel—with the list narrative of the photos, memories and other debris of the St.
Louis family house, the matriarch trying to manipulate every aspect of her children's lives. But what is literary, ambivalent and complicated in The Corrections is all the sweeter for its simplicity in Franzen's essays.
In a heartbreaking moment as she drives Jonathan back to the airport, not long before her death from cancer, his mother admits, "I hate it when Daylight Savings Time starts while you're here because it means I have an hour less with you.
Mostly, he just has to stay out of their way. Franzen is a deft writer, and the prose in these pieces is consistently excellent. In point of fact, such readers might be best passing on The Discomfort Zone. The bulk of the collection was originally published in The New Yorker, and a third of it has already been reprinted in Best American Essays.
It is a slight book, the pages stretched out by a generous-sized font, and fans of Franzen's nonfiction or The New Yorker might cringe at ponying up twenty-two dollars for so few pages that will be new to them. But for the rest of us, the material is good.
Discussing the paucity of his adolescent social life, Franzen remarks, "My mother, in her thrift, favored inexpensive tab-collared knits, usually of polyester, which advertised me equally as an obedient little boy and a middle-aged golfer, and which chafed my neck as if to keep me ever mindful of the shame of wearing them.
It is a good strategy, if a little familiar, and when it works, the warmth of the memoir, the information of the academic subject and the gravitas of the global issues together produce a substantive essay. The remaining three aren't quite as strong and often feel self-indulgent.
Also, the six essays don't work particularly well together. Beyond the redundant structureThe Discomfort Zone: A Personal History - Kindle edition by Jonathan Franzen. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Discomfort Zone: A /5(57).
Jonathan Franzen became my favourite author after I read "The Corrections" - and read it again and again. The book is so deeply layered and each section so valuable and intertwined with the others that it is a pleasure to reread, but what appeals before all else is Franzen's breathtaking style.
In "The Discomfort Zone" he is playful, self. Jonathan Earl Franzen (born August 17, ) is an American novelist and metin2sell.com novel The Corrections, a sprawling, satirical family drama, drew widespread critical acclaim, earned Franzen a National Book Award, was a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist, earned a James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award.
Franzen’s oeuvre also includes two collections of essays, How to Be Alone, and Farther Away, and a personal history, The Discomfort Zone. His most recent book is The Kraus Project, a translation with commentary of the work of the nineteenth-century Austrian critic, Karl Kraus.
Jonathan Franzen is the author of `The Twenty-Seventh City', `Strong Motion' and `The Corrections'. His fiction and non-fiction appear frequently in the New Yorker and Harper's, and he was named one of the best American novelists under forty by Granta and the New Yorker.
In his memoir, The Discomfort Zone (), Franzen explores the influence of his childhood and adolescence on his creative life. After college, Franzen married a fellow classmate and writer and begin a quiet, isolated domestic life dedicated to reading and writing.