John Dugdale

The Artist as Geek

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History


Fourth Estate 197pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Franzen, the much-admired author of The Corrections, has already shown himself equally at ease in non-fiction in How To Be Alone, which encompassed such topics as the US postal service, sex advice books, and the future of the novel. Although this collection included some autobiographical offerings (notably one on the experience of being first promoted by Oprah Winfrey, then dropped by her after making disobliging comments), it was dominated by essays and other journalism. An attempt was made to suggest an overall theme – the complex self’s battle to survive in a society of ‘technological consumerism’ – but it was essentially a familiar kind of fame-exploiting ragbag, albeit one of consistently high quality.

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