Remember the author who turned down Oprah for pick of the week? According to Lev Grossman’s article in the August 23rd edition of Time magazine – Jonathan Franzen, the Wide Shot – this may not be the real story. But no one really cares if Oprah felt disrespected or if Franzen seemed above the masses. Franzen’s Pulitzer finalist – Corrections – survived the public relations faux pas – no matter how depressing the story was.
Grossman humanizes Franzen as a bird watcher and focused writer with another great novel coming this month – Freedom… this one just as hard to take and again revolving around a family’s emotions. According to Grossman, its theme may be more important today than ever…
There is something beyond freedom that people need: work, love, belief in something, commitment to something. Freedom is not enough. It’s necessary but not sufficient. It’s what you do with freedom – what you give it up for – that matters.
But Franzen’s 2005 remarks at Swarthmore on receiving an honorary degree provide better insight into what drives this intense author…
“…you may be wrong about …almost everything…but you might as well get used to the kind of person you are…, because that person isn’t going anywhere.”
As a bonus, the Time article offers 5 books Franzen says have influenced him – impressive picks. More fuel for my library reservations – have you read these yet?
- The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley
- Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth
- The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton