Farther Away: Essays

Jonathan Franzen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-15357-1
Franzen (The Corrections) follows up his 2010 blockbuster novel, Freedom, with a collection of recent essays, speeches, and reviews, in which he lays out a view of literature in which storytelling and character development trump lyrical acrobatics, and unearths a few forgotten classics. Franzen’s easy dismissal of a few canonical works, such as Ulysses, may invite contention, but when in his native realm—books that revel in the frustrations, despairs, and near-blisses of human relationships—he is an undeniably perceptive reader. In other essays, he confronts an epidemic of songbird hunting in the Mediterranean, tracks a novelty golf club cover back to a Chinese factory to investigate that nation’s notoriously ambivalent stance toward environmental conservation, and withdraws to a remote South American island to meditate on Robinson Crusoe and the suicide of his friend and rival David Foster Wallace. He also weighs in on Facebook’s narcissistic death spiral and the way the “sexy” new gadgets that never seem to leave our fingertips get in the way of real life and relationships, as well as the uneasy subject of autobiographical fiction and the effect a failed marriage had on his early novels. This intimate read is packed with provocative questions about technology, love, and the state of the contemporary novel. Agent: Susan Golomb Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 04/24/2012
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Paperback - 321 pages - 978-1-250-03329-1
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