To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Jonathan Franzen became my favourite author after I read "The Corrections" - and read it again and again. The book is so deeply layered and each section so valuable and intertwined with the others that it is a pleasure to reread, but what appeals before all else is Franzen's breathtaking style. In "The Discomfort Zone" he is playful, self-deprecating; he solicits our compassion and makes us cringe and laugh along with his younger self. There were so many great lines and great passages that I took to reading it with a pen in hand to underline things. I would definitely recommend this to any fan of Franzen's work.
Ok, I'll start with the disclaimer that I am a Franzen fan. This is quite different from his earlier collection "How to be alone". The essays in this one are apparently autobiographical and more or less go from his high school years till when his mother dies fifteen or so years later. The later essays, especially the last one, seem to have been written about the time he was either writing Freedom or outlining it as all the themes of Freedom are present. The essay on his participation in Fellowship (no "the") gets to Franzen's attraction to groups and other folks as well as his more or less constant running away from the same. There is also a lot on birds and bird watching and many ruminations on the fate of the earth. Lots of curmudgeonly rants along the way. If you liked Freedom and/or The Corrections you'll like this.
It's always a delight to read Franzen. His writings come from an academically trained mind that did not become too "academic" or patronizing, not to mention the noticeable cultural enrichment and streghtening of his American philosophical perspective by having learned the German language and studied their powerful literature.
I enjoyed this autobiographical book even more than his hit novel "The Corrections." I must admit I prefer non-fiction to fiction because it really happened (except in the case of James Frey perhaps!) The descriptions are excellent, and the action moves along to keep your interest.
I find a lot of hope in Jonathan Franzen's personal history. I love the complexity of his writing, essays and fiction. There is a really nice humanness to him that he is willing to share. When I'm finished with one book I find myself looking to see if there is anything more I can read by him. Reading his books has become a compulsion.