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Farther Away: Essaysby Jonathan Franzen
Synopses & Reviews
Jonathan Franzens Freedom was the runaway most-discussed novel of 2010, an ambitious and searching engagement with life in America in the twenty-first century. In The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus proclaimed it “a masterpiece of American fiction” and lauded its illumination, “through the steady radiance of its authors profound moral intelligence, [of] the world we thought we knew.”
In Farther Away, which gathers together essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years, Franzen returns with renewed vigor to the themes, both human and literary, that have long preoccupied him. Whether recounting his violent encounter with bird poachers in Cyprus, examining his mixed feelings about the suicide of his friend and rival David Foster Wallace, or offering a moving and witty take on the ways that technology has changed how people express their love, these pieces deliver on Franzens implicit promise to conceal nothing. On a trip to China to see first-hand the environmental devastation there, he doesnt omit mention of his excitement and awe at the pace of Chinas economic development; the trip becomes a journey out of his own prejudice and moral condemnation. Taken together, these essays trace the progress of unique and mature mind wrestling with itself, with literature, and with some of the most important issues of our day. Farther Away is remarkable, provocative, and necessary.
"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 exposÃ© 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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jonathan Franzen is the author of four novels (Freedom, The Corrections, Strong Motion, and The Twenty-Seventh City), a collection of essays (How to Be Alone), a personal history (The Discomfort Zone), and a translation of Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening, all published by FSG. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.
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