Sean McBride's Reviews > How to Be Alone

How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen
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's review
Jul 04, 2011

really liked it
Read from July 04 to 16, 2011

I came to this book with a certain curious apprehension. I knew Franzen had a reputation for elitism and pessimisim, but I was also struck by the title and his love of and for reading. Then indeed you jump right into "My Father's Brain" (after the initial self-aggrandizing preface) a morose essay about how his father suffered and died from Alzhiemers. Damn, I thought, this is going to be a tough one.

I was right, there were times I laughed out loud at his pandering and bland cynicism, and there were times I wanted to throw the book at the wall at his stubborness to change. Then you get to "Meet Me in St. Louis" right at the end (The essay about how he was shunned from Oprah) and the writing is so erudite and eloquent I nearly cried.

Then I realized that despite the fact that he is a pedant and a literary snob and he shoves it in your face, he's an amazing author. Hs intention is to bring you in on a low note and then gradually take step after step out from behind his shield of anonymity and bares his ugly EGO, then eventually and fluidly, brings you back to sympathy.

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