Monday, September 11, 2006

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History by Jonathan Franzen

One of people who serves on the Notable committee has been quite taken with this memoir but my response has been more lukewarm. Jonathan Franzen has come home to St Louis to get his parent's house ready to sell after the death of his mother. While he is waiting for it to sell he reflects on the significant moments of his life with particular emphasis on his childhood. The language in the book is beautiful and it is well constructed but for me, the characters were flat and uninteresting. For someone who has had such a rich and varied life and writes so well I think he could have come up with more interesting things to talk about. Even when his marriage is in trouble there is such a sense of distance that it is hard to care about the outcome.

I found myself having to force my attention back to the story time and time again. On so many levels this is a lovely book but in the end I just didn't care enough. If I hadn't been reading it for the committee I probably would have stopped reading it at some point along the way.

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