Rowena's Reviews > How to Be Alone

How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen
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Jun 04, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: hmm, good, okay-but-something-went-a-bit-wrong
Read in June, 2011

this is the first work i've read by jonathan franzen, and quite possibly the first work of nonfiction i've voluntarily read.

he started off well with the essay about his father, which was sad and for me, relatable to a degree. so i liked him.

then i got to "why bother?"/the harper's essay, and his lament of technology's growth didn't sit well with me. after all, without the internet, i wouldn't have known about him or found many of the authors/musicians i currently enjoy. and of course his anti-technology sentiments then permeated almost all of his essays. so i read them and was alternately like 'ok this is a pretty good read' or like 'what' at some of the more ridiculous sentences which i can't recall atm. sometimes he seemed to forget that machines are manmade. and intended to enhance life.

and it's not like i am huge on technology either. i have a shitty ass phone and i don't even have texting which is unfortunate because apparently this leads to having no friends unless you want to call people all the time which is not always appropriate. BUT I DIGRESS. even if technology sort of stunts social situations, it's not like it's terrible and we should just do everything on typewriters and crappy old machines. it's certainly not destroying the future of the novel. come on, he really thinks someone who reads 'social novels'/'literature' would abandon reading just because he now has a tv?? give people some credit, jeez. he even mentioned that people in the less technologically advanced past preferred shitty books over 'literature'. it's always been this way!

despite this, though, there were enjoyable parts. my favorite essay was "meet me in st louis". i do like his writing, just not all his points. the book has an appealing concept, though sometimes i found myself wondering why i was reading about the post office or cigarettes (yes, he explained how they related to being alone, but the connections seemed kind of tenuous i guess).

not sure if i would recommend this collection, but i'm probably still going to read his fiction.
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message 1: by Allie (new)

Allie hey without the internet i would never talk to you again. (besides accidental phone calls in parking lots outside of barnes and noble haha) clearly the internet is one of the best inventions ever. (and this is completely irrelevant, but i just like responding so you're not talking into a void. i read these things! although probably not him. or non-ficiton any time soon.)


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