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Posts tagged "Jonathan Franzen"

“It’s a Nice Day for a Run” and Other Strange Things to Say: Some Thoughts on Our Pursuit of Pain

It was the closest thing to hell I’ve experienced: my whole body hurt. A dull buzz in my feet, knees, and head: a red-hot pain emanating outward, into my neck, arms, down my back. I sat down. I stood up. I walked in aimless circles, drank water. Nothing helped. After running along the James River, […]

From the Archives: Not Much of a Technology Person?

Been a while since we’ve talked about this, or heard from this guy. So here you are, a classic DZ technology rant. Throwback!  We were heading in the same direction, an awkward number of steps apart, close enough that we might as well have been walking together. He was maybe ten years older than me, well […]

The Internet and the Ache in Franzen’s Purity

Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Purity, came out last week, and although it temporarily cost me some good moods and positive self-regard, I got through it. Franzen has a real knack for exposing the ugly personal implications behind most of my daily behaviors. He has a low anthropology, which is partially why his writing is so […]

Trapped in The Corrections: Family Life in Franzen and Boyhood

Back in March, my Dad took a week away from work, and we spent spring break together in Southwest Florida. It was awesome. One of our oft-repeated tasks, along with eating fish and chips and baking in the sun, was combing through the nearest Barnes and Noble looking for beach reading. Dad happened to have […]

Is Contemporary Literature Post-Christian?

An essay in last week’s NYTimes written by Paul Elie grabbed my attention, prodded me in the gut, and provoked some mixed reactions on my behalf. Written with a sensitivity to the oft-referenced ‘post-Christian society,’ Elie surmises that contemporary American fiction lacks the believer: “In American fiction, belief is like that. Belief as upbringing, belief as […]

Jonathan Franzen on Influence, Connection, and Kafka (not to mention Intimacy, Control and David Foster Wallace)

Piggybacking off of Ethan’s wonderful post on The Art of Fielding, here are two phenomenal quotes from Jonathan Franzen’s recent collection of non-fiction, Farther Away. The first comes from a lecture he gave “On Autobiographical Fiction” in which he tackles the four questions writers dread most, the first of which is the question of influences: It […]

Another Week Ends: Blue Like Jazz, Youth Ministry, Franzen, Facebook, and Harvard Grads

Filling in for DZ this week as the Mockingbird Conference is now in full swing! 1. Our very own Cameron Cole wrote a wonderful piece on youth ministry over at The Gospel Coalition, highlighting its strong tendency toward legalism and making a plea for a gospel-centered youth ministry. Wanting validation for their tireless labor, youth […]

Everything That Is Deep Loves the Mask: Jonathan Franzen in The Paris Review

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of author Jonathan Franzen’s recent interviews. He not only advocates consistently and compassionately for a “somewhat more tragic view” of human nature, he puts the toxicity of the American growth imperative into words. So how I missed his lengthy discussion with The Paris Review following the release of […]

Franzen on Technological Grace, The Dangers of Liking and the Cost of Loving

So what is it about Kenyon College that inspires such great commencement speeches?! Maybe it’s the creative residue that Bill Watterson left behind at his alma mater (or John Zahl for that matter). Whatever the case, Jonathan Franzen followed in his friend and colleague David Foster Wallace’s steps and delivered this year’s address, an essayified […]

The Screwtaping of David Foster Wallace – According to Jonathan Franzen

An absolute must-read from the April 18th issue of The New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen’s devastating essay “Farther Away,” detailing his retreat to the ultra-remote South Pacific island of Masafuera in hopes of recovering from the grueling period of Freedom-related work, maybe catching a glimpse of an extremely rare bird, as well as depositing some of his […]

Patty Berglund Breaks Down (Twice)

The third inner-crisis moment in our series happens to be the first of several that Patty Berglund, wife of Walter and mother of Joey, undergoes in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom: “Due perhaps to the nicotine, she spent the entire night sleeplessly replaying the evening in her head, trying to do as [her soon-to-be husband Walter’s best […]

Walter Berglund Breaks Down

The second in a series of three stirring crisis moments in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. This one occurs just after activist/father/married man Walter Berglund has confessed his love for his much younger assistant Lalitha (and she for him). A fiercely principled man, the moment of weakness is the long-time-coming chink in the armor of self-righteousness and […]