Zach Gray's Reviews > Farther Away

Farther Away by Jonathan Franzen
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's review
Jun 23, 2012

really liked it

I really enjoyed Franzen's writing. There were a few essays that I loved. One was the commencement speech he gave at Kenyon College, and the others were personal stories of his family and his friendship with the late David Foster Wallace. Then there were several essays about books or authors that Franzen admires, most of which are lesser known works. I really liked how he describes the authors and their characters and I marked several of them in my to-read shelf. Then there were a couple of lengthy essays about birds and their endangerment. I have no interest in birds, but Franzen's writing made me interested enough to listen.

I wish more of the book was personal accounts, but Franzen's perspective and writing style won me over and I'm sure I'll read more of him in the future.

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Quotes Zach Liked

Jonathan Franzen
“You can all supply your own favorite, most nauseating examples of the commodification of love. Mine include the wedding industry, TV ads that feature cute young children or the giving of automobiles as Christmas presents, and the particularly grotesque equation of diamond jewelry with everlasting devotion. The message, in each case, is that if you love somebody you should buy stuff. A related phenomenon is the ongoing transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb 'to like' from a state of mind to an action that you perform with your computer mouse: from a feeling to an assertion of consumer choice. And liking, in general, is commercial culture's substitution for loving.”
Jonathan Franzen, Farther Away

Jonathan Franzen
“Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.”
Jonathan Franzen, Farther Away

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