The Harper’s Essay” [“Perchance to Dream”] is retitled “Why Bother?” in Jonathan Franzen’s collection of essays “How to Be Alone”. So begins Jonathan Franzen’s famous essay, “Perchance to Dream,” which appeared in Harper’s fifteen years ago this month. The essay. In his now famous essay “Perchance to Dream: In an Age of Images, a Reason to Write Novels,” published by Harper’s Magazine in April,

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And these insights are the sole legacy of the social novelist who desires to represent the world not simply in its detail but in its essence, to shine light on the morally blind eye of the virtual whirlwind, and who believes that human beings deserve better than the future of attractively priced electronic panderings that is even now being conspired for them.

Soulja Boy off in this oh Watch me lean then watch me rock Superman dat oh Yeah watch me crank eprchance Robocop.

Why Bother? by Jonathan Franzen | extrafilespace

But the most honest thing to say is that the way he sees fiction has changed the way I see fiction. The Kindle may be young, but substantive works of fiction, whether on paper or a screen, stand as islands of commercial and mental quiet in a sea of cultural noise.

A generation ago, by paying close attention, Paula Fox could discern in a broken ink bottle both perdition and salvation. In other words, one or both of the parents must have been reading serious books and must have encouraged the child to do the same. He was also the author of the Baburnamaan autobiography unprecedented in its milieu.

He opposes this to the long history of American literary protagonists who, though solitary, have been celebrated as exemplars of American freedom including Huckleberry FinnHazel Motesand Tyrone Slothrop. To the angry callers demanding to know why I hated St. Raymond Chandler said it best: Become a member today.

Simply having a parent who reads is not enough, however, to produce a lifelong dedicated reader. Do you know where you are? Ringing the depressed urban core of serious fiction were prosperous new suburbs of mass entertainments.


Views Read Edit View history. It is 15, words long, and readers hoping to franzdn the dreaj of wit and wisdom sprinkled liberally through the text must hack through a thick, fibrous membrane of authorial ego.

I’m still asking them. He was not interested in reconciling personality traits “The paragraph is a series of shocks,” says Forster of one character study.

The reader laughs with the writer, feels less alone with the sting.

There is no ice, cold water, good food or bread in the markets. Language is important in a novel, obviously, but less so than in poetry, where the frsnzen of distillation makes it overarchingly vital.

About Robin Harvie I have been running marathons for ten years. Was it the best word I could think to describe the sound of shoes in the snow?

In the spring ofwhile teaching at a small liberal arts college, Franzen recalls his realization that the push towards balkanization of fiction —seeking to place Women’s Fiction and Gay Literature at the forefront of curriculum-—is not necessarily decided with the best interests of the authors’ representative groups in mind, but more often intended as therapeutic against modern malaise, blaming “canonical” work as “Symptoms of Disease”. Thank you for this article.

So I began deam cut as ruthlessly as possible, and just as importantly to elide plot, to remove connective tissue, to cede control of the book to the reader. It’s not just as a sensualist that Babur writes, although his fruit-lust verges on the scandalous; he was a bonafide observer of living things. History is the rabid thing from which we all, like Sophie Bentwood, would like to hide.

Why Bother? by Jonathan Franzen

ClubAndy Battaglia called Franzen’s conclusions “a lot more heartening than might be expected”, and found that the collection of essays was made far more interesting by both Franzen’s tone of anxiety, as well as the controversies surrounding The Corrections ti selected for Oprah’s Book Club.

Year after year, without spectacle but as steady as the oceans wash the frajzen, they sell and sell and sell. The topic was “Modern Family,” and the moderator posed the question: What makes James Wood great? But fream she meant was that fiction feeds on specificity, and that the manners of a particular region have always provided especially fertile ground for its practitioners.


By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. I do recall a Disney picture book involving a scroogey Donald Duck character that I liked deram read over and over — something about soup made from a button. In a winter when every house in the nation was haunted by the ghostly telepresences of Peter Arnett in Baghdad and Tom Brokaw in Saudi Arabia — a winter when the inhabitants of those houses seemed less like individuals than a collective algorithm for frazen conversion of media jingoism into an eighty-nine-percent approval rating — I was tempted to think that if a contemporary Otto Bentwood were breaking down, he would kick in franxen screen of his bedroom TV.

Simpson, Timothy McVeigh, and Bill Clinton have an intense, iconic presence that relegates to a subordinate shadow-world our own untelevised lives.

Recently a melon was brought, and as I cut it and at it I was oddly affected. Apparently, this form of storytelling has a future. Howell to propose to her although the only words he had ever spoken to her were How are you?

Pride compels me, here, to draw a distinction between young fiction readers and young nerds. My two heroes of the moment are Jon Krakauerwho I have written about already, and Ed Staffordwhose excellent Walking the Amazon is out now to coincide with his TV documentary. He then mentioned, almost in passing, that he would be running across America in two months time.

And eventually it dawned on me that the despair I felt about the novel was less the result of my obsolescence than of my isolation. How did it feel to get such good reviews?

Forsterwho was facetious but enthusiastic about the book in “The Emperor Babur,” or Amitav Ghoshwho wrote a very elegant essay about Babur for The Little Magazine.