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All Me, All the Time

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History by Jonathan Franzen

Reviewed by Marjorie Kehe
Christian Science Monitor

"Reading Jonathan Franzen always reminds me of the day in sixth-grade math when Miss Worrell explained binary systems to us: twofold worlds alternating between on and off. At least, that's how I experienced The Corrections, Franzen's award-winning novel of family life gone awry. There are the parts that are sidesplittingly funny and there are the parts that serve up jolts of cringe-inducing pain. And there are plenty of places where the reader is bounced mid-sentence from one sensation to the other." Read the entire Christian Science Monitor review.

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2 Responses to "All Me, All the Time"

    Barbara Wilson September 18th, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Boo Hoo Franzen, so sorry he's the only one in the world with an awful childhood. THE CORRECTIONS was such a total waste of time, now this book promises to be an equal "discomfort zone." If little Jonathan ever grows up maybe he'll go into Real Estate or something else besides writing so we readers will be spared the boredom.

    Shira September 19th, 2006 at 7:49 am

    Have not read either book yet though I've got to look at (not buy) this one for sure, out of a case of morbid fascination. First of all, kudos to Marjorie Kehe for a very fine review! Maybe it's a case for koans and kudos.
    Without getting into amateur shrink-stuff and Freudian goop (hey, I'm the dotter of a shrink, Jewish to boot), I am genuinely fascinated with how such a distinct and powerful personality type as Franzen's emerged in Jewish culture and history. "No blame" as the I Ching says. No tomatoes thrown at mein yiddishe mama, either. I have run into this creepy narcissism so many times, and it is so much cast in monolithic stone despite local (personal) variations, that it surely is a Phenomenon. Why so consistent? Why so persistent? Why so unshakable? Not that the princesses are less afflcted than the princes, I really am not pointing a finger or casting a stone. I just feel a need to ponder the presence of so much sickness in people who also have so many gifts. Thoughts, anybody?

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