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Preview — The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen
The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History
Here's the thing. Franzen is the only mainstream American culture (he's been on Oprah and the cover of Time, and as far as I'm concerned that puts him at Miley Cyrus levels of mainstream for the middle-aged, -class, and-Western) who actually spits venom at the system. I appreciate this.
Here he unleashes his rage against himself and his various insecur ...more
(Why not call it essays? Or a memoir? Because Franzen is at pains to show you what a cool cat he is, that’s why.) Franzen’s a different animal here, is all I can say—or, perhaps more aptly: I come to strange realizations about the big grump I’ve always loved. I was drawn to The Discomfort Zone because he can be so incisive about his family [see his other essays in How to Be Alone and in Farther Away, whic ...more
I believe Jonathan Franzen fans will be both delighted and disappointed with this collection, The Discomfort Zone. It starts out very strong, showing off Franzen's remarkable vocabulary, storytelling ability, and his disregard for political-correctness. In a piece called, "House for Sale," Franzen tells what it feels like to take on the chore of emptying and selling what was his childhood home. Anyone who has faced the death of a parent and has undergone this emotional task will relat ...more
I don't know when Franzen's innate un-hipness became official. Was it when he announced his mixed feelings about his work being included in Oprah's book club? Was it when he wrote his essay on Edith Wharton--an article that would go on to become perhaps the most misunderstood piece of nonfiction in the last 10 years? Was it when he started bashing Kindles and Twitter? Was it, perhaps, when ...more
The book travels through time while the main character, who seems to be Franzen himself,remembers his childhood, his teenage years, young adulthood, adulthood when his mother died, his divorce, his subsequent relationship and eventual immersion in bird watching as a hobby. ...more
There is so much hear that resonates with my own life, and I suspect, the lives of many who were raised the Hollywood-driven global culture. Awkward-but-still-close family ties, the thousand faux pas- ...more
“...I had a nightmare about the Averys’ sweet-tempered German shepherd, Ina. In the dream, as I was sitting on the floor in the Averys’ living room, the dog walked up to me and began to insult me. She said I was a frivolous, cynical, attention-seeking “fag” whose ...more
The Discomf ...more
Anyways, onward with my review…
I enjoyed learning more about Franzen as a person. I liked seeing how his personal experiences (fascination with birds, environmentalism, strange relations ...more
I think he uses this start as an introduce, where he stops a continual disappointment to his strict, provincial parents and shows how his mother's opinions have deeply influence on his life.
He goes back to his childhood with the next ...more
"What an arrogant fool," I'm sure I defensively muttered. For though I never watch Oprah, her books are amazing. So I took up a pretentious opinion of all things Franzen-esque.
But I read "The Corrections"...more
Franzen had an upper-middle class upbringing in an affluent neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up in his own little world and was a pretty well adjusted kid who seemed to be more of a grown up than a child. He was geek ...more
I love the essays at the beginning of the collection, when Franzen talks about his youth and his family. Even though Franzen and I really have nothing in common on a surface level, whenever he writes about his famil ...more
This book really spoke to me, maybe it ...more
I started reading Jonathan Franzen, it seemed, because I could no longer resist the world's infatuation with "The Corrections.
The book has a very promising first chapter, it is well-written, thoughtful, and it raises a number of good points and contradictions about middle class values in the American Midwest in the 1960s. Yet, the rest is pointless, boring, self-absorbed stories of writer's childhood and early adolescence. Very disappointed .
Doesn't necessarily feel like a memoir (partly because he jumps around a little chronologically), but Franzen is an amazing and romantically poetic writer. Flavorful and sincere, this memoir encapsulates what a discomfort it is to grow up. And what a thrill it is too.
1. "Although they were obviously my enemies, I envied them their long hair and their rebellious clothes, which I wasn't allowed to have, and I half admired the purity of their adolescent anger, which contrasted with my ow ...more
Franzen's other honors include a 1988 Whiting Writers' Award, Granta's Best Of Young Ameri ...more
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You never stop waiting for the real story to start, because the only real story, in the end, is that you die.”