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The End of the End of the Earth: Essays by…
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The End of the End of the Earth: Essays

by Jonathan Franzen

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“We spend our days reading, on screens, stuff we'd never bother reading in a printed book, and bitch about how busy we are.”

Franzen seems to be the most divisive of all living authors. I know he is abrasive and highly-opinionated but so are many artists. I have only read Franzen's The Corrections, which I did love. I always wanted to try his essay work and when I learned that he was such an avid “birder”, I knew I wanted to try this collection. There are birds galore here, so I was not disappointed. I just wish I had the money to go to all these amazing places. Sadly, many of these pieces deal with the destruction of birds and their habitat, (the numbers are truly staggering). As a novice birder myself, it was enough to make you weep. That said, his passion and joy watching and discovering birds, helped balance his well-documented rants.
He also loves books, so a few of these essays also deal with authors and literature, which obviously I can also relate to. This collection is not for everyone and it was not perfect but, if any of those topics hold any interest, give it a try. ( )
  msf59 | Feb 3, 2019 |
The book is about 50% birds, and I'm really just not that into birds, or nature or conservation writing. So, I skimmed a couple of chapters.
He's good when he is writing from a personal perspective. I enjoyed his chapter about living in NY in the early 80s, and particularly the bookend chapters. The first was a kind of retrospective explanation/apologia/accounting for an essay previously published, where he got pissed at the Audubon Society for trying to get people to focus on climate change instead of more immediate concrete actions that would more directly help birds; and the essay itself was reprinted. Maybe one or two sentences could have been toned down; but I really thought it was a perfectly good essay and I'm sorry people all piled on him for writing it, calling him a "birdbrain" (har, har) and even a climate change denier (please).
The last essay really made my day, even though it WAS partly about birds; it was a recounting of a pricey expedition to Antarctica, and his sighting of an Emperor Penguin. I even read the good bits to my husband. It was interspersed with reminiscences of the uncle who had left him the money that made the expedition possible, which really didn't belong; and I'm just tired of recollections of dead old relatives and pathos in general. So this essay was an exceptional instance of wishing he'd skip the personal stuff and get back to the birds. ( )
  Tytania | Jan 12, 2019 |
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