How to be Alone

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 May, 2004, 12:00am

How to be Alone

by Jonathan Franzen

4th Estate $124

Almost every review of Jonathan Franzen's National Book Award-winning novel The Corrections (2001) discussed the infamous essay on the fate of the American novel that he wrote in 1996 for Harper's Magazine. The essay is reprinted in How to be Alone, along with writing on subjects as diverse as the sex advice industry, his father's struggle with Alzheimer's, and the way a supermax prison works. Franzen's familiar themes emerge: the erosion of private dignity and the hidden persistence of loneliness in today's America. Franzen calls his collection 'a movement away from an angry and frightened isolation towards an acceptance - even a celebration - of being a reader and a writer'. He manages to be relevant, tough and funny, making this both entertaining yet depressing social commentary.




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