How to Be Alone: Essays (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Macmillan, May 15, 2007 - Literary Collections - 288 pages
374 Reviews
Passionate, strong-minded nonfiction from the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections

Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections was the best-loved and most-written-about novel of 2001. Nearly every in-depth review of it discussed what became known as "The Harper's Essay," Franzen's controversial 1996 investigation of the fate of the American novel. This essay is reprinted for the first time in How to be Alone, along with the personal essays and the dead-on reportage that earned Franzen a wide readership before the success of The Corrections. Although his subjects range from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each piece wrestles with familiar themes of Franzen's writing: the erosion of civic life and private dignity and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America. Recent pieces include a moving essay on his father's stuggle with Alzheimer's disease (which has already been reprinted around the world) and a rueful account of Franzen's brief tenure as an Oprah Winfrey author.

As a collection, these essays record what Franzen calls "a movement away from an angry and frightened isolation toward an acceptance--even a celebration--of being a reader and a writer." At the same time they show the wry distrust of the claims of technology and psychology, the love-hate relationship with consumerism, and the subversive belief in the tragic shape of the individual life that help make Franzen one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics.


  

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5 stars
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4 stars
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3 stars
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2 stars
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1 star
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Great collection from a smart, engaging writer. - Goodreads
He is a fairly pompous writer. - Goodreads
Very easy to read andvery enjoyable to understand. - Goodreads
He's writing to hype himself up. - Goodreads
A good amount of his insights are dead on. - Goodreads
He is such a great writer. - Goodreads

Review: How to Be Alone

User Review  - Tom - Goodreads

Franzen comes across as a prentious asshole in this collection of essays, where he manages to write almost 300 pages without saying anything of substance. He's certainly a talented writer though, but maybe he should wonder what role he is playing in the decline of readership. Read full review

Review: How to Be Alone

User Review  - Tom - Goodreads

Was interesting. It wasn't what one might expect based on the title, but I did feel that after reading it I had gained some interesting insight on the subject. The author is a writer of fiction and ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

MY FATHERS BRAIN
7
IMPERIAL BEDROOM
39
WHY BOTHER?
55
LOST IN THE MAIL
98
ERIKA IMPORTS
139
SIFTING THE ASHES
143
THE READER IN EXILE
164
FIRST CITY
179
SCAVENGING
195
CONTROL UNITS
207
MR DIFFICULT
238
BOOKS IN BED
270
MEET ME IN ST LOUIS
286
INAUGURATION DAY JANUARY 2001
303
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Jonathan Franzen won the National Book Award for Fiction for The Corrections in 2001, and is the author of two other critically acclaimed novels, The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and Harper's.

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