cover image Farther Away: Essays

Farther Away: Essays

Jonathan Franzen, read by the author and Scott Shepherd. Macmillan Audio, unabridged, seven CDs, 9 hrs., $34.99 ISBN 978-1-4272-2148-3

Literary heavyweight Franzen’s new nonfiction collection in audio features two highly personal essays read by the author, while Scott Shepherd narrates the remainder of the book’s varied entries. In presenting the opening segment—the text of his commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2011—Franzen evokes the air of a curmudgeonly but wise uncle figure, warning bright young minds against the perils of the digital age. In giving voice to a chronicle of his journey to a remote island off the coast of Chile, Franzen effectively captures a sense of foreboding, particularly in his reflections on the suicide of fellow author and close friend David Foster Wallace. Shepherd skillfully transitions among the mix of genres—criticism, memoir, travelogue—latching onto dramatic elements while maintaining the cerebral tone set by Franzen himself. Shepherd’s talent proves especially memorable in his rendering of Franzen’s exposé on songbird hunting in the Mediterranean; he portrays the players on both sides of this environmental struggle with an ear for vivid detail. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux hardcover. (Apr.)