OVERRIDE

How to Be Alone

Essays

Jonathan Franzen

Picador

From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a collection of essays that reveal him to be one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics

While the essays in this collection range in subject matter from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each one wrestles with the essential themes of Franzen's writing: the erosion of civil life and private dignity; and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America. Reprinted here for the first time is Franzen’s controversial l996 investigation of the fate of the American novel in what became known as "the Harper's essay," as well as his award-winning narrative of his father's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, and a rueful account of his brief tenure as an Oprah Winfrey author.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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A WORD ABOUT THIS BOOK
MY THIRD NOVEL, The Corrections, which I’d worked on for many years, was published a week before the World Trade Center fell. This was a time when it seemed that the voices of self and commerce ought to fall silent—a time when you wanted, in Nick Carraway’s phrase, “the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever.” Nevertheless, business is business. Within forty-eight hours of the calamity, I was giving interviews again.
My interviewers were particularly interested in what they referred to as “the Harper’s
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  • Jonathan Franzen - Le Conversazioni (2006)

    Jonathan Franzen talks about writers of his "generation" and his community.

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REVIEWS

Praise for How to Be Alone

"The welcome paradox in How to be Alone is that the reader need not feel isolated at all. . ..This collection emphasizes [Franzen's] elegance, acumen and daring as an essayist, with an intellectually engaging self-awareness as formidable as Joan Didion's." --The New York Times

"Why be alone? For the pleasure of reading books such as this." --Entertainment Weekly

"Franzen critiques the alienating effects of postmodern America with just as much passion as he displays in his fiction. . .he cuts to the truth with razor-sharp precision. . . These essays offer a great reason to turn of the TV and spend the evening alone, lost in thought." --Time Out New York

"How to be Alone reaffirms the novelist's prerogative to engage in social criticism. And Franzen's calm, passionate critical authority derives not from any special expertise in criminology, neurology or postal science, but rather from the fact that, as a novelist, he is principally concerned with the messy architecture of the self." --The New York Times Book Review

"There is here the eloquence and sensitivity and profound personal engagement that is only possible with the printed word--and, even then, only when it has no fear of being literature. Put Franzen among the living heroes of it." --The Buffalo News
"The welcome paradox in How to be Alone is that the reader need not feel isolated at all. . ..This collection emphasizes [Franzen's] elegance, acumen and daring as an essayist, with an intellectually engaging self-awareness as formidable as Joan Didion's." --The New York Times

"Why be alone? For the pleasure of reading books such as this." --Entertainment Weekly

"Franzen critiques the alienating effects of postmodern America with just as much passion as he displays in his fiction. . .he cuts to the truth with razor-sharp precision. . . These essays offer a great reason to turn of the TV and spend the evening alone, lost in thought." --Time Out New York

"How to be Alone reaffirms the novelist's prerogative to engage in social criticism. And Franzen's calm, passionate critical authority derives not from any special expertise in criminology, neurology or postal science, but rather from the fact that, as a novelist, he is principally concerned with the messy architecture of the self." --The New York Times Book Review

"There is here the eloquence and sensitivity and profound personal engagement that is only possible with the printed word--and, even then, only when it has no fear of being literature. Put Franzen among the living heroes of it." --The Buffalo News

In the Press

Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Jonathan Franzen on Author Videos and the Novel
We are very excited about Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, his first novel since The Corrections. He recently stopped by our office to discuss the ideas behind his book, why reading is the opposite of multitasking, and how very odd it can be for authors to appear on video.
- FSG's Work in Progress
Work in Progress » Blog Archive » How to Read a Novelist
Jonathan Franzen by John Freeman Last week in Work in Progress we brought you John Freeman's conversation with Jeffrey Eugenides as the first of an exclusive two-part preview of Freeman's How to Read a Novelist, his book of more than fifty author profiles coming from FSG Origina...
- FSG's Work in Progress
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Jonathan Franzen

  • Jonathan Franzen won the National Book Award for fiction for The Corrections in 2001, and is the author of two other critically acclaimed novels, The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and Harper's.
  • Jonathan Franzen Greg Martin
    Jonathan Franzen
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Available Formats and Book Details

How to Be Alone

Essays

Jonathan Franzen

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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