Currently reading

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How to Be Alone

How to Be Alone - Jonathan Franzen At this point, this collection of essays is a little, well, historical. I really found the examination of how culture and media and technology and literature terribly interesting -- some of those thoughts are still floating around in cyberspace today. But mostly I just enjoyed these essays for themselves. I found the author very conversational -- my side of the conversation was missing, but I was happy to mentally engage.

I notice that a lot of the reviewers here found Franzen's voice off-putting, condescending, etc. I may have been there except I read the author's forward, which really kept me from resenting his tone. In his forward, he tells a story in which he becomes indignant that no one understands him, and then he goes back to reread an older essay (the Harper's essay), and realized how angry and stuck-up it sounded. In short, he started his collection with an acknowledgement that he has been wrong, he has been angry and depressed, and these essays were part of an inner struggle, not a dictation about how everyone else should live their lives. And I took him at his word.

So all I can really say is that I truly enjoyed this collection. I didn't agree with him, and at times a smile crept onto my face -- these are the times when I would have interrupted him if in person and asked if maybe he wasn't getting a little carried away. But I was not offended, and I found his conversation, his company really, thought-provoking and nourishing. His essay about his father was touching, but also gave me pause, thinking about my own relationships with relatives with Alzheimer's. His cultural commentary was less touching or gentle, but also not belligerent or hateful. He's intelligent and clearly thinking about a number of things that I think about myself. I appreciated hearing his point of view.