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1 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History

by

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Franzen's new book, The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History...offers the same kind of whipsaw reading experience [as The Corrections]. It's hilarious and it's painful. It's sharply insightful and it's also frustratingly obtuse....[F]or those who admire the razor-sharp jabs Franzen makes at himself and anyone else standing too close, The Discomfort Zone is both a delicious read and a clever showcase for Franzen's talents." Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)

"From the assertive averageness of his practical, Midwestern family to his love of the sad-funny comics of Charles Schultz to his knowledge of the German language, this book reads like a map of the sensibility that made The Corrections so entertaining and important. Even in his minor scenes and ordinary descriptions, Franzen employs a cartoonish flair that catches the reader's eye and signifies that it all really is about something greater than himself." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Jonathan Franzen arrived late, and last, in a family of boys in Webster Groves, Missouri. The Discomfort Zone is his intimate memoir of his growth from a "small and fundamentally ridiculous person," through an adolescence both excruciating and strangely happy, into an adult with embarrassing and unexpected passions. It's also a portrait of a middle-class family weathering the turbulence of the 1970s, and a vivid personal history of the decades in which America turned away from its midcentury idealism and became a more polarized society.

The story Franzen tells here draws on elements as varied as the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafka's fiction on his protracted quest to lose his virginity, the elaborate pranks that he and his friends orchestrated from the roof of his high school, his self-inflicted travails in selling his mother's house after her death, and the web of connections between his all-consuming marriage, the problem of global warming, and the life lessons to be learned in watching birds.

These chapters of a Midwestern youth and a New York adulthood are warmed by the same combination of comic scrutiny and unqualified affection that characterize Franzen's fiction, but here the main character is the author himself. Sparkling, daring, arrestingly honest, The Discomfort Zone narrates the formation of a unique mind and heart in the crucible of an everyday American family.

Review:

"National Book Award — winner Franzen's first foray into memoir begins and ends with his mother's death in Franzen's adulthood. In between, he takes a sarcastic, humorous and intimate look at the painful awkwardness of adolescence. As a young observer rather than a participant, Franzen offers a fresh take on the sometimes tumultuous, sometimes uneventful America of the 1960s and '70s. A not very popular, bookish kid, Franzen (The Corrections) and his high school buddies, in one of the book's most memorable episodes, attempt to loop a tire, ring-toss — style, over their school's 40-foot flag pole as part of a series of flailing pranks. Franzen watches his older brother storm out of the house toward a wayward hippe life, while he ultimately follows along his father's straight-and-narrow path. Franzen traces back to his teenage years the roots of his enduring trouble with women, his pursuit of a precarious career as a writer and his recent life-affirming obsession with bird-watching. While Franzen's family was unmarked by significant tragedy, the common yet painful contradictions of growing up are at the heart of this wonderful book (parts of which appeared in the New Yorker): 'You're miserable and ashamed if you don't believe your adolescent troubles matter, but you're stupid if you do.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"There's an expression weary writing instructors use in hopes of wringing the self-indulgence out of their egocentric students: 'Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting.' In 'The Discomfort Zone,' a collection of six autobiographical essays, Jonathan Franzen, author of the award-winning 2001 novel 'The Corrections,' stands that admonition on its head. He takes experiences from his... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Franzen is extremely funny, winning, and not incidentally an astute social commentator. As in his previous work, the style here is energetic and engaged; many ideas are woven together, not often quickly or easily; this is not for lazy readers." Library Journal

Review:

"Only rarely does [Franzen] talk specifically about his emergence as a writer, but it's all there, right in front of you. Quirky, funny, poignant, self-deprecating and ultimately wise." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This gratifyingly unpredictable and finely crafted collection ends with a tour de force...a thoughtful, wry, and edgy musing on marital bliss and misery, global warming, the wonder of birds, and our halfhearted effort to protect the environment." Booklist

Review:

"[F]unny, masterfully composed, self-deprecating — if sometimes too foppish — ruminations on [Franzen's] life so far....For those eagerly awaiting his Corrections follow-up, this will help get you through the night. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Mr. Franzen turns his unforgiving eye on himself and succeeds in giving us an odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass: petulant, pompous, obsessive, selfish and overwhelmingly self-absorbed." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"The weak chapters have their share of delights; the strong chapters are impossibly articulate and true. And like the born novelist that he is, Franzen keeps operating under the sign of ambivalence." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"I loved The Corrections, but this memoir has less of the blazingly great writing and more of the depressingly familiar Franzen trademarks." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"An alternately funny and oppressive memoir that paints a portrait of a man practically paralyzed with self-consciousness....This is humorous material, but the buildup can be grinding." Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"[B]rief, beautifully crafted....Franzen's technique is often as invisible and intricate as a cobweb. As you turn pages...you realize you've been moving along a silken pathway designed by a very bright spider." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Synopsis:

Sparkling, daring, arrestingly honest, this work narrates the formation of a unique mind and heart in the crucible of an everyday American family.

Synopsis:

Jonathan Franzen arrived late, and last, in a family of boys in Webster Groves, Missouri. The Discomfort Zone is his intimate memoir of his growth from a "small and fundamentally ridiculous person," through an adolescence both excruciating and strangely happy, into an adult with embarrassing and unexpected passions. It's also a portrait of a middle-class family weathering the turbulence of the 1970s, and a vivid personal history of the decades in which America turned away from its midcentury idealism and became a more polarized society.

The story Franzen tells here draws on elements as varied as the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafka's fiction on his protracted quest to lose his virginity, the elaborate pranks that he and his friends orchestrated from the roof of his high school, his self-inflicted travails in selling his mother's house after her death, and the web of connections between his all-consuming marriage, the problem of global warming, and the life lessons to be learned in watching birds.

These chapters of a Midwestern youth and a New York adulthood are warmed by the same combination of comic scrutiny and unqualified affection that characterize Franzen's fiction, but here the main character is the author himself. Sparkling, daring, arrestingly honest, The Discomfort Zone narrates the formation of a unique mind and heart in the crucible of an everyday American family.

Synopsis:

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
 
The Discomfort Zone is Jonathan Franzens  tale of growing up, squirming in his own über-sensitive skin, from a “small and fundamentally ridiculous person,” into an adult with strong inconvenient passions. Whether hes writing about the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafkas fiction on his protracted quest to lose his virginity, or the web of connections between bird watching, his all-consuming marriage, and the problem of global warming, Franzen is always feelingly engaged with the world we live in now. The Discomfort Zone is a wise, funny, and gorgeously written self-portrait by one of Americas finest writers.

About the Author

Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction; the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion; and a collection of essays, How to Be Alone, all published by FSG. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374299194
Subtitle:
A Personal History
Author:
Franzen, Jonathan
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
BIO026000
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Franzen, Jonathan
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
September 5, 2006
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.47 x 5.62 x 0.91 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374299194 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "National Book Award — winner Franzen's first foray into memoir begins and ends with his mother's death in Franzen's adulthood. In between, he takes a sarcastic, humorous and intimate look at the painful awkwardness of adolescence. As a young observer rather than a participant, Franzen offers a fresh take on the sometimes tumultuous, sometimes uneventful America of the 1960s and '70s. A not very popular, bookish kid, Franzen (The Corrections) and his high school buddies, in one of the book's most memorable episodes, attempt to loop a tire, ring-toss — style, over their school's 40-foot flag pole as part of a series of flailing pranks. Franzen watches his older brother storm out of the house toward a wayward hippe life, while he ultimately follows along his father's straight-and-narrow path. Franzen traces back to his teenage years the roots of his enduring trouble with women, his pursuit of a precarious career as a writer and his recent life-affirming obsession with bird-watching. While Franzen's family was unmarked by significant tragedy, the common yet painful contradictions of growing up are at the heart of this wonderful book (parts of which appeared in the New Yorker): 'You're miserable and ashamed if you don't believe your adolescent troubles matter, but you're stupid if you do.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Franzen's new book, The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History...offers the same kind of whipsaw reading experience [as The Corrections]. It's hilarious and it's painful. It's sharply insightful and it's also frustratingly obtuse....[F]or those who admire the razor-sharp jabs Franzen makes at himself and anyone else standing too close, The Discomfort Zone is both a delicious read and a clever showcase for Franzen's talents." (read the entire CSM review)
"Review A Day" by , "From the assertive averageness of his practical, Midwestern family to his love of the sad-funny comics of Charles Schultz to his knowledge of the German language, this book reads like a map of the sensibility that made The Corrections so entertaining and important. Even in his minor scenes and ordinary descriptions, Franzen employs a cartoonish flair that catches the reader's eye and signifies that it all really is about something greater than himself." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "Franzen is extremely funny, winning, and not incidentally an astute social commentator. As in his previous work, the style here is energetic and engaged; many ideas are woven together, not often quickly or easily; this is not for lazy readers."
"Review" by , "Only rarely does [Franzen] talk specifically about his emergence as a writer, but it's all there, right in front of you. Quirky, funny, poignant, self-deprecating and ultimately wise."
"Review" by , "This gratifyingly unpredictable and finely crafted collection ends with a tour de force...a thoughtful, wry, and edgy musing on marital bliss and misery, global warming, the wonder of birds, and our halfhearted effort to protect the environment."
"Review" by , "[F]unny, masterfully composed, self-deprecating — if sometimes too foppish — ruminations on [Franzen's] life so far....For those eagerly awaiting his Corrections follow-up, this will help get you through the night. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "Mr. Franzen turns his unforgiving eye on himself and succeeds in giving us an odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass: petulant, pompous, obsessive, selfish and overwhelmingly self-absorbed."
"Review" by , "The weak chapters have their share of delights; the strong chapters are impossibly articulate and true. And like the born novelist that he is, Franzen keeps operating under the sign of ambivalence."
"Review" by , "I loved The Corrections, but this memoir has less of the blazingly great writing and more of the depressingly familiar Franzen trademarks."
"Review" by , "An alternately funny and oppressive memoir that paints a portrait of a man practically paralyzed with self-consciousness....This is humorous material, but the buildup can be grinding."
"Review" by , "[B]rief, beautifully crafted....Franzen's technique is often as invisible and intricate as a cobweb. As you turn pages...you realize you've been moving along a silken pathway designed by a very bright spider."
"Synopsis" by , Sparkling, daring, arrestingly honest, this work narrates the formation of a unique mind and heart in the crucible of an everyday American family.
"Synopsis" by ,
Jonathan Franzen arrived late, and last, in a family of boys in Webster Groves, Missouri. The Discomfort Zone is his intimate memoir of his growth from a "small and fundamentally ridiculous person," through an adolescence both excruciating and strangely happy, into an adult with embarrassing and unexpected passions. It's also a portrait of a middle-class family weathering the turbulence of the 1970s, and a vivid personal history of the decades in which America turned away from its midcentury idealism and became a more polarized society.

The story Franzen tells here draws on elements as varied as the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafka's fiction on his protracted quest to lose his virginity, the elaborate pranks that he and his friends orchestrated from the roof of his high school, his self-inflicted travails in selling his mother's house after her death, and the web of connections between his all-consuming marriage, the problem of global warming, and the life lessons to be learned in watching birds.

These chapters of a Midwestern youth and a New York adulthood are warmed by the same combination of comic scrutiny and unqualified affection that characterize Franzen's fiction, but here the main character is the author himself. Sparkling, daring, arrestingly honest, The Discomfort Zone narrates the formation of a unique mind and heart in the crucible of an everyday American family.

"Synopsis" by ,
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
 
The Discomfort Zone is Jonathan Franzens  tale of growing up, squirming in his own über-sensitive skin, from a “small and fundamentally ridiculous person,” into an adult with strong inconvenient passions. Whether hes writing about the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafkas fiction on his protracted quest to lose his virginity, or the web of connections between bird watching, his all-consuming marriage, and the problem of global warming, Franzen is always feelingly engaged with the world we live in now. The Discomfort Zone is a wise, funny, and gorgeously written self-portrait by one of Americas finest writers.
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