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How To Be Alone, Essays by Jonathan Franzen

How To Be Alone, Essays (original 2002; edition 2002)

by Jonathan Franzen

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2,006213,346 (3.57)53
Title:How To Be Alone, Essays
Authors:Jonathan Franzen
Info:Farrar, 2002 (2002), Edition: 1St Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:essays, american, non-fiction, Jonathan Franzen

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How to Be Alone: Essays by Jonathan Franzen (2002)

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    Trouble: Stories by Patrick Somerville (woollams812)
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The essay "My Father's Brain" is excellent. It chronicles Franzen's father's death from Alzheimer's. The essay about Franzen's kerfuffle with Oprah is also very good. The other essays are well-written and enjoyable. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
I'm very sympathetic to his concerns w/r/t fiction, so that part of the book was actually interesting and quite neat. And his Alzheimer's essay is astonishingly good. But that said, the book is saddled with many just-OK essays. I just couldn't get excited about it past the first few chapters. ( )
  gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
In all fairness, this book wasn't what I had expected it to be. But it was still very hard to get through because it was pretentious and boring and lacking in any real human insight that I would find relevant. I can see why this author's previous work made it onto Oprah's book list; that's right where he deserves to be. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
About "Why Bother?": Like sitting at a cafe listening to a depressed cynic whose intelligence and style keep you there, despite the sinking feeling in your heart and knowing that this guy should step outside of himself now and then. ( )
  wrk1 | Jan 15, 2014 |
This book of essays was quite entertaining. I found the essays about subjects other than the state of literature to be the most entertaining. Some of the essays are from the 90s and reflect the sensibilities and uncertainty of how technology and the internet will develop and affect our lives. I did get bored with the essays on the state of literature. The first one was decent but the other two felt sort of rehashed. Perhaps this is the case because of their age of the essays and the fact I have read other more recent and similar essays.

When Franzen is "on" he is definitely "on". The essay on Alzheimer's and his fathers decline was endearing and heartbreaking, the essays on the colorado prisons and the mail problems in chicago were both enlightening and highly entertaining.

This was enjoyable to read straight through but I also feel that it would be a good book to read off and on depending on your mood. ( )
  dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312422164, Paperback)

Jonathan Franzen is smart and brash, the kind of person you want as your social critic but not as a brother-in-law. Many of the 14 essays in How to Be Alone, by the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Corrections, first appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and elsewhere. A long, much-discussed rumination on the American novel, (newly) titled "Why Bother?," is included, as well as essays on privacy obsession, the U.S. post office, New York City, big tobacco, and new prisons. At his best, as in "My Father's Brain," a piece on his father's struggle with Alzheimer's, Franzen can make the ordinary world utterly riveting. But at times, it can be difficult to discern where Franzen stands on any particular subject, as he often takes both sides of an argument. Valid attempts to reflect ambiguity s! ometimes lead to obfuscation, especially in his essays on privacy and tobacco, although his belief that small-town America of years gone by offered the individual little privacy certainly rings true. Franzen can write with panache, as in this comment after he watched, without headphones, a TV show during a flight: "(It) became an exposé of the hydraulics of insincere smiles." A few of the shorter pieces appear to be filler. Franzen shines brightest when he gets edgy and a little angry, as in "The Reader in Exile": "Instead of Manassas battlefield, a historical theme park. Instead of organizing narratives, a map of the world as complex as the world itself. Instead of a soul, membership in a crowd. Instead of wisdom, data." --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:29 -0400)

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The author presents his 1996 work, "The Harper's Essay," offering additional writings that consider a central theme of the erosion of civic life and private dignity and the increasing persistence of loneliness in postmodern American.

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