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Jonathan Franzen's essays and more of our favorite new books.


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Salon Staff
November 11, 2002 8:47PM (UTC)

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How to Be Alone: Essays by Jonathan Franzen
I reached the limits of my tolerance for most essays about "the writer's life" long ago, but I've always got time for good writing about reading. The miscellaneous pieces in this collection are not exclusively on that subject -- there are reported pieces on the Chicago post office, prisons and Franzen's father's death from Alzheimer's disease, as well -- but the author of "The Corrections" has a respect for readers and a concern for the practice of reading that's surprisingly and lamentably rare among his colleagues. (Which makes the whole Oprah thing all the more distressing -- there's a piece on the weirdness of being packaged for television in here, too, if you haven't had enough of that scandal yet.) If the collection has any one theme, it's a very welcome one, on the value of privacy, of stretching out in the space inside one's own head and of not allowing your preoccupations to be dictated by the media's jangly siren song.

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-- Laura Miller

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