I’m not terrifically familiar with Franzen’s writing; all I’ve read is that essay everyone writers took issue with this, especially because why bother picking on I had the opportunity to meet Jonathan Franzen this past October. Jonathan franzen essay why bother. Theology essay scientific revolution thematic essay conclusion, ward churchill september Franzen, Jonathan. How to be alone: essays /Jonathan. Franzen.—1st ed. p. cm. . retitled it “Why Bother?”) .. no memory of being bothered.

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For people as protective of their privacy and as fiercely competitive as writers are, mute suffering would seem to be the safest course. Compare the literature of the sunny, fertile, peaceful West Coast. This, in part, is what he said:. Heath’s research divided those who developed the habit of substantively reading between those who modeled the reading of their parents, and those who found themselves social isolates as children from an early age.

Expecting a novel to bear the weight of our whole disturbed society — to help solve our contemporary problems — seems to me a peculiarly American delusion.

But what she meant was that fiction feeds on specificity, and that the manners of a particular region have always provided especially fertile ground for its practitioners.

She rode public transportation in twenty-seven different cities. But the result jonatan the same: Heath’s interviews generally consist of discovering from individuals reading ehy works of fiction” why they are reading, rather than using electronic media to stave off boredom. Publishing is now a subsidiary of Hollywood, and the blockbuster novel is a mass-marketable commodity, a portable substitute for TV.

A new book by Thackeray or William Dean Howells was anticipated with the kind of fever that a late-December film release inspires today. But I was paralyzed with the third book. Against the advice of the husband, Otto, she has given milk to a homeless cat, and the cat has repaid the kindness by biting her hand. This is very, very difficult to uncover in an interview. Boosted by the optimism of publishers who fdanzen that an essentially dark, contrarian entertainment might somehow sell a zillion copies, I made enough to fund the writing of my next book.

Her review found Franzen’s novels as well as his essays to depict a great cultural urgency, but neither find ways of confronting it.

I used to distrust creative-writing departments for what seemed to me their artificial safety, just as I distrusted book clubs for treating literature like a cruciferous vegetable that could frranzen choked down only with a spoonful of socializing.


Finding a peer can take place as late as college. In the long run, the vranzen of communitarianism is likely to have all sorts of nasty consequences. In the spring ofwhile teaching at a franzzen liberal arts college, Franzen recalls his realization that the push towards balkanization of fiction —seeking to place Women’s Fiction and Gay Literature at the forefront of curriculum-—is not necessarily decided with the best interests of the authors’ representative groups in mind, but more often intended as therapeutic against modern malaise, blaming “canonical” work as “Symptoms of Disease”.

For me the work of regaining a tragic perspective has therefore involved a dual kind of reaching out: At most, I might feel I knew MacLaine a little better.

Why Bother? by Jonathan Franzen

This site uses cookies. But they do so with the understanding that they can no longer depend on their material, as Howells and Sinclair and Stowe did, but only on their own sensibilities, and jnathan the expectation that no one will be reading them for news.

And did the distress I was feeling derive from some internal sickness of the soul, or was it imposed on me by the sickness of society? The language of literary works gives forth something different with each reading. The writer of average talent who wants to report on, say, the plight of illegal aliens would be foolish to choose the novel as a vehicle. All of a sudden I became aware of how very hungry I was to construct and inhabit an imagined world.

For a person to sustain an interest in literature, she told me, two things have to be in place. There was a siege going on: A generation ago, by paying close bothef, Paula Fox could discern in a broken ink bottle both perdition and salvation. Tragic realism preserves access to the dirt behind the dream of Chosenness — to the human difficulty beneath the technological ease, to the sorrow behind the pop-cultural narcosis: In the introduction to the essay collection How to Be AloneFranzen notes that he was frequently asked about the essay joonathan interviews, and that may have aroused more interest than any of his fictional works.

But what now feels like the locus of that crisis — the banal ascendancy of television, the electronic fragmentation of public discourse — is nowhere to be seen in the novel. Notify me of new comments via email. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Ruth Franklin, in a review of Freedom for The New Republicfound the essay to be unfocused and ultimately inconclusive as to what the goal of the Social Novel, or the novel in general should be.


But this would have missed the point.

“Why Bother?” | New Literature

In the past, when the life of letters was synonymous with culture, solitude was possible the farnzen it was in cities where you could always, day and night, find the comfort of crowds outside your door. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. As I grope for my own sense of community, I distrust both a little less now. I was depressed, though, to learn that several of my best writers had vowed never to take a literature class again.

The essence of fiction is solitary work: MFA programs offered housing and workfare to the underemployed; a few crackpot city-loving artists continued to hole up in old warehouses; and visiting readers could still pay weekend visits to certain well-policed cultural monuments — the temple of Toni Morrison, the orchestra of John Updike, the Faulkner House, the Wharton Museum, and Mark Twain Park.

If we see religion and art as the historically preferred methods of coming to terms with this Ache, then what happens to art when our technological and economic systems and even our commercialized religions become sufficiently sophisticated to make each of us the center of our own universe of jonqthan and gratifications?

On the East Coast, Heath found a bpther element of class in this. Silence, however, is a useful statement only if someone, somewhere, expects your voice to be loud.

But when you are sick you find yourself in a new field of perception where you make a harvest of interpretations which then provides you with your daily bread, your only food.

It felt great, I said. The world of the present is a world in which the rich lateral dramas of local manners have been replaced by a single vertical drama, the drama of regional specificity succumbing to a commercial generality.

Do you know why you are here? It was still the sixties, and they had no idea what had hit them. Franzen expanded and revised the essay, re-titling it “Why Bother? And the problem is aggravated when fiction writers take refuge in university creative-writing programs. Franzen concludes bothe his epiphany at being again able to read and write with a new sense of social responsibility.

Your family versus your country, your wife versus your girlfriend.