Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lorrie Moore on Jonathan Franzen

In conjunction with the publication of its Fall Books issue, the New Yorker asked a few of its regular contributors what they were reading.

Among the respondents--Lorrie Moore:
Despite the hoopla surrounding Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, I was unprepared for two aspects of it that no one had mentioned to me: how funny it was, and how feminist. (The ending, in which the widowed mother, shed of her marriage, is now ready to make a better life for herself at the age of seventy-five, is like a stiletto of ice slipping neatly into, and then between, the ribs.) On my bedside table now is Franzen’s The Discomfort Zone, a wondrous book of lively, intelligent, intimate—and funny—narrative essays, which has received in the Times two of the most bewildering reviews I’ve ever read. Franzen is never the hero of his own anecdotes, and he observes the world (and himself) the way the baby of a family often does: with a kind of ruthless, custodial affection. He is able to see how three different centuries have converged upon Americans and how disorienting that can be. Even the cover charms: on the jacket is a Victorian “Map of a Man’s Heart,” reprinted from McCall’s and looking like some jokey geography thought up by Lewis Carroll, with its “Broad Range of Interests,” its “Province of Deep Thought,” its “Memory of Mother Moat” and “Ravine of the Limited Take-Home.” There are few ways in, though the “Tunnel of Fetch and Carry” will get one across the memory of mom. It all makes me think that people do not have the wit and humor that they used to.

Also from the New Yorker: What is Malcolm Gladwell reading?

Click here to read Lorrie Moore's story "Paper Losses."

--Marshal Zeringue