A good collection of good essays; most of them were written in the mid to late 1990s, and they have not aged badly - much of what he says is still (!) relevant today (e.g., "...if our legislatures weren't purchasable, if the concepts of honour and personal responsibility hadn't largely given way to the power of litigation and the dollar... [destructive industry would not still be flourishing]" page 161), on books about sex, privacy, the nature and value of reading literature, and capitalism's effect on people's encounter with the meaning of life. My favourites were "Scavenging" (please note, the first bracket is not a misprint : it eventually closes) and "Why bother?"
A wonderful collection of essays by Jon Franzen. His writing is crisp, precise and has a hard-to-describe fluidity.
Franzen covers a lot of different material: there's an essay about Franzen's father's Alzheimer's near the start of the book; the wonderful "Why Bother?" in which he considers the place of fiction (and the habit of reading) in modern society; and even one about sex-advice books near the end.
Most of the essays deliver clear social commentary, and though I disagreed with Franzen here and there, it was a pleasure to read such well-thought (and, again, well-written) opinions.
There is also humour in the book. Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny, but mostly it's soft, considered humour.
Get it and enjoy it!
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