How to Be Alone

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9780007152575: How to Be Alone

Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections was the best-loved and most-written-about novel of 2001. Now in How to be Alone, discover the personal narratives and the dead-on reportage that earned Franzen a wide readership before the success of The Corrections.

The audiobook How to be Alone features Franzen's reading of a moving narrative of his father's struggle with Alzheimer's disease (which won a National Magazine Award and has been reprinted around the world).

Although his essays range from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each essay wrestles with essential themes of Franzen's writing: the erosion of civic life and private dignity, and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America.

Here, in 14 essays, are 14 fresh answers to the question of how to be alone in a noisy and distracting mass culture. These essays 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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Review:

Jonathan Franzen is smart and brash, the kind of person you want as your social critic but not as a brother-in-law. Many of the 14 essays in How to Be Alone, by the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Corrections, first appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and elsewhere. A long, much-discussed rumination on the American novel, (newly) titled "Why Bother?," is included, as well as essays on privacy obsession, the U.S. post office, New York City, big tobacco, and new prisons. At his best, as in "My Father's Brain," a piece on his father's struggle with Alzheimer's, Franzen can make the ordinary world utterly riveting. But at times, it can be difficult to discern where Franzen stands on any particular subject, as he often takes both sides of an argument. Valid attempts to reflect ambiguity s! ometimes lead to obfuscation, especially in his essays on privacy and tobacco, although his belief that small-town America of years gone by offered the individual little privacy certainly rings true. Franzen can write with panache, as in this comment after he watched, without headphones, a TV show during a flight: "(It) became an exposé of the hydraulics of insincere smiles." A few of the shorter pieces appear to be filler. Franzen shines brightest when he gets edgy and a little angry, as in "The Reader in Exile": "Instead of Manassas battlefield, a historical theme park. Instead of organizing narratives, a map of the world as complex as the world itself. Instead of a soul, membership in a crowd. Instead of wisdom, data." --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

About the Author:

Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction, and two other critically acclaimed novels, The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion, all published by FSG. He lives in New York City.

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Jonathan Franzen
Published by 4th Estate (2002)
ISBN 10: 0007152574 ISBN 13: 9780007152575
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Book Description 4th Estate, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0007152574

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