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by Jonathan Franzen
People forget that Christmas stories are all about how awful Christmas is really.
My experience reading Gone with the Mind spawned an array of adjectives, often in the span of a few seconds. Absurd, juvenile, sophisticated, selfless, masturbatory, profound. That’s Mark Leyner, and he knows it.
Like Franzen's novels, the Berenstain Bear books might meander, reveling in details alternately informative and irrelevant, but ultimately they're straightforward tales about family.
The big stuff, globally speaking, is never really what matters in Franzen's novels — not nearly so much as love, anyway.
The inheritance of Steinbeck in Packer's multigenerational novel is strong and diffuse.
It is natural to hope, even if that hope is somewhat against the weight of experience, that artists can light the path ahead.
At 9,000 words strong and encompassing 91 titles, this is the only 2015 book preview you will ever need.
Garcia Marquez solved an essential problem of the novel; he arrived at a moment of crisis for the form and offered the warring parties a graceful way out of it.
In Culture Trust 2.0, we’re all Don Draper, and we’re all susceptible to his slick salesmanship.
With the awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2013/2014 literary award season is now over, which gives us the opportunity to update our list of prizewinners.
Twitter somehow encompasses both sides of the Emily Dickinson dichotomy. On Twitter, the Nobodies have seized hold of the mic and managed to occupy the bog.
Each participant found at the entrance a neon green envelope, including a library card in manila sleeve for taking notes on each “date,” and a name tag featuring the handle of a character from a favorite book. These would be our pseudonyms for the night. Each date would last an almost militantly enforced four minutes. A single case of lingering could cause the entire caterpillar crawl to go legs up. There was to be no lingering. Lingering is for books.
With the awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2012/2013 literary award season is now over, which gives us the opportunity to update our list of prizewinners.
The word that made me lift my fingers from the keyboard was "clitoris." Was it okay to use this word? What would my fellow literary writers, my former teachers and classmates at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop think of me?
It is high time defenders of American literary fiction cut Oprah Winfrey a break.
It’s hilarious and sad and all the usual things we say a work of literature is when we mean it seems to contain all of life.
As usual, to compose my Year in Reading is to confront my failures.
There are few iron facts in the crapshoot of the literary life, but here’s one: In book publishing — no less than in music, war, and sex — timing is everything.
For the record no serious critic goes into a job planning to do a takedown. All I heard about Mad Men was that it was great...I sat in my bedroom watching with a good friend of mine and we looked at each other after three episodes and I said, “The love is not happening.” Then it becomes interesting.
With the awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2011/2012 literary award season is now over, which gives us the opportunity to update our list of prizewinners.
It’s an age-old complaint, but things don’t really seem to be changing. You can seek out literature from just about anywhere — and now it’s easier than any previous point in history — but it’s a hell of a lot harder to bring it into the conversation.
We are creating a generation of riff artists, who see their job not as creating wholly new original projects but as commenting upon cultural artifacts that already exist.
It shows adulthood and devotedness, I think, to try and get back to a book you love, every four seasons or so. So which books do you all reread yearly, or biannually, or quadrennially, or decennially, and why?
She cut me off and asked whether she should call HBO. She added that they offered anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000 for every day they were filming. My response was something along the lines of: "YOU HAVE TO TELL THEM THAT YOU WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO FILM THIS SHOW IN OUR HOUSE.”
Along the way there will be a duel, a failed assassination attempt, gun-running, Santeria rituals, kidnapping, torture, scorching sex, and, finally, a coveted interview with Fidel Castro. The storytelling has the irresistible pull of a riptide.
With the awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2010/2011 literary award season is now over, which gives us the opportunity to update our list of prizewinners.
The crisis Franzen described 15 years ago this month would seem doubly urgent for today’s young writers, yet twentysomethings are entering the literary arena in droves. The question’s not “Why Bother?” but “What gives?”
The Cookbook Collector’s literary elegance is part of what made the book invisible to a broad public, while Franzen’s roaring crassness is part of what made his book such a smash. He’s just a lot louder than she is.
It disturbed me profoundly, and that has to count for something.
I found myself thinking about that long-ago interview—the advice he’d unknowingly doled out—and picking up some of the shorter novels on my bookshelves.
Reading about one’s hometown doesn’t transport so much as extend, enlarging our maps with each page. Whether in comics, films, or novels, this verisimilitude is a gift—recognition that you actually exist.
With 2001's The Corrections, Franzen would seem to have perfected his maximalist method. What might it mean to say that his new novel, Freedom, finds him maturing?
With the awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2009/2010 literary award season is now over, which gives us the opportunity to update our list of prizewinners.
Recently it struck me that the list of books I’ve started and not finished has grown quite formidable. I ask myself what this “means,” if it reflects some kind of moral devolution.
Tinkers debuts and The Corrections graduates. Plus, a controversial new number one.
Franzen stays on top. Sebald to the Hall of Fame. Tolstoy debuts.
David Mitchell graduates to the Hall of Fame, Michael Lewis debuts, and we have a new number one.
We learned recently that Jonthan Franzen's long-awaited follow-up to The Corrections, a new novel called Freedom, will arrive at the end of August.
There's something for every lover of fiction coming in 2010, but, oddly enough, the dominant theme may be posthumous publication.
Four books debut on the list: Powell, McCann, Pevear and Volokhonsky, and Bouillier. David Mitchell vaults into the top spot.
Dave Eggers opens and closes the list. Franzen debuts. And Atwood returns.
In a literary world where writers are playing the lottery against the longest of odds, Oprah was the winning ticket. But in less than two years, the ultimate book publicity coup will be off the table.
It's probably its hospitality to debate that makes the "Best Of" list so popular in the first place. One can agree - yes! great list! - or dissent - Where is x? Why no y? - or inveigh against list-making itself, but in any case, the list holds up a mirror to one's own preoccupations. As with any mirror, it is fearsomely hard to look away.
As we sifted through the ballots, what struck us was not a "unified sensibility," but an exhilarating diversity, which we plan to share with you in the coming days.
Our distinguished panel selected 20 incredible books as their Best of the Millennium (So Far). What were our readers' favorites from the decade now coming to a close?
In the spring and summer of 2001, people who were listening could hear The Corrections coming.