How to Be Alone

How to Be Alone

Essays

Book - 2002
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From the National Book Award-winning author of "The Corrections," a collection of essays that reveal him to be one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics
While the essays in this collection range in subject matter from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each one wrestles with the essential themes of Franzen's writing: the erosion of civil life and private dignity; and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America. Reprinted here for the first time is Franzen's controversial l996 investigation of the fate of the American novel in what became known as "the Harper's essay," as well as his award-winning narrative of his father's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, and a rueful account of his brief tenure as an Oprah Winfrey author.
Publisher: Toronto : HarperFlamingo Canada, c2002
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780002006521
0002006529
Branch Call Number: 814.54 Franz
Characteristics: 278 p

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Dec 11, 2017

A good collection of good essays; most of them were written in the mid to late 1990s, and they have not aged badly - much of what he says is still (!) relevant today (e.g., "...if our legislatures weren't purchasable, if the concepts of honour and personal responsibility hadn't largely given way to the power of litigation and the dollar... [destructive industry would not still be flourishing]" page 161), on books about sex, privacy, the nature and value of reading literature, and capitalism's effect on people's encounter with the meaning of life. My favourites were "Scavenging" (please note, the first bracket is not a misprint : it eventually closes) and "Why bother?"

RustyRook Feb 11, 2012

A wonderful collection of essays by Jon Franzen. His writing is crisp, precise and has a hard-to-describe fluidity.
Franzen covers a lot of different material: there's an essay about Franzen's father's Alzheimer's near the start of the book; the wonderful "Why Bother?" in which he considers the place of fiction (and the habit of reading) in modern society; and even one about sex-advice books near the end.
Most of the essays deliver clear social commentary, and though I disagreed with Franzen here and there, it was a pleasure to read such well-thought (and, again, well-written) opinions.
There is also humour in the book. Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny, but mostly it's soft, considered humour.
Get it and enjoy it!

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