3.10.2011

Bookish {- Adjective. 1. given or devoted to reading or study.} 2011




Book 3

How To Be Alone: Essays, Jonathan Franzen


For me, collections of essays and short stories are never the riveting, hypnotic reads. Even when I think the ideas and writing are good (great), I almost always feel like it's safe. For me to really get into the work, I think it needs at least the space (length) of a novella to explore ideas thoroughly or fully enough. It's to my literary taste. So I read this book of essays and it didn't change my life, although, I'm obviously enjoying Franzen's work these days (I've posted him so many times here). How To Be Alone, begins strongly with the essays "My Father's Brain," a look at his father's battle with Alzheimer's, and "Imperial Bedroom," exploring America's complex obsession with privacy. In true Franzen fashion (in accordance with my previous experience reading his work) I inevitably compiled a "word list" of which I need assistance to pronounce and/or learn the definitions of. He defends himself (although not forcefully as to come across as brash or harsh) from this reputation of "elitist" "pompous" etc, and investigates the concept of difficult pleasure in the essay, "Mr. Difficult." I enjoy taking in his perceptions and thoughts as they align and differ from my own. I enjoyed hearing his personal take on the writer as social critic, a role that he very obviously embodies in his fiction writing. It's refreshing to receive a snippet of understanding of the author as person, not apart from but rather than author as artist, exclusively.

Reading the collection has made me excited to revisit David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays. It is brilliance.


Wow I can't believe we're this far into March and I'm just finishing my third book this year. So different from the 45 challenge this time last year. I'm hoping to step it up..

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