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Jonathan Franzen How To Be Alone Essays About Education

From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a collection of essays that reveal him to be one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics

While the essays in this collection range in subject matter from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each one wrestles with the essential themes of Franzen's writing: the erosFrom the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a collection of essays that reveal him to be one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics

While the essays in this collection range in subject matter from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each one wrestles with the essential themes of Franzen's writing: the erosion of civil life and private dignity; and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America. Reprinted here for the first time is Franzen's controversial l996 investigation of the fate of the American novel in what became known as "the Harper's essay," as well as his award-winning narrative of his father's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, and a rueful account of his brief tenure as an Oprah Winfrey author....more

Paperback, 306 pages

Published October 1st 2003 by Picador (first published 2002)

“A graceful meditation on reading and writing in a digital age . . . Franzen probes two very simple ideas: 'the movement away from an angry and frightened isolation toward an acceptance--even a celebration--of being a reader and a writer' and 'the problem of preserving individuality and complexity in a noisy and distracting mass culture.'” ―Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., The Altanta Journal-Constitution

“Franzen believes the monolithic quality of the U.S. media, its jingoistic flattening of complex issues and the rush to hop on the information superhighway are a constant assault on the internal lives of Americans . . . These are essays about the pain of being an American in a time when the means to alleviating pain threaten to dehumanize pain itself, when the means for entertaining ourselves have become so sophisticated it's almost hard to complain. There's some boldness, then, in how Franzen reclaims his pain on the page, owning up to it and, as any good journalist will, making it our own, too.” ―John Freeman, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Although Franzen calls them 'essays' many of these pieces are reportage. He's good at it . . . All these pieces place both writer and reader on firm ground . . . He goes out on many a limb (as essayists should) and gives us a good many things to think about, such as the blurring line between private and public behavior in the age of the 24-hour news cycle.” ―Dan Sullivan, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“If Franzen had not been anointed to the Higher Calling of Literature, he might have made a terrific journalist . . . Two of the reportage pieces are models of the New Journalism.” ―Roger K. Miller, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Franzen is a charming and sagacious writer, even an important one, a man who cares about literature and who cares about the problems of modernity--race, urban sprawl, corporate hegemony. Books matter, is the final message. A keen intellect is at work here, even though Franzen often seems to be arguing with himself; perhaps How to Be Alone is most brilliant when the author is arguing with himself. Jonathan Franzen has a restless mind and we are better for it.” ―Corey Mesler, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)

“A collection of essays diverse and entertaining . . . Smart, solid, and well-paced: a pleasure for Franzen's many admirers.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“[Franzen] demonstrates his remarkable capacity for evaluating the American scene . . . The journalistic pieces included in the book show that Franzen ain't afraid to face facts . . . Essays covering the tobacco industry and the 2001 presidential election, as well as consumerism and the nature of privacy in America, offer rare evaluations of the modern world as we know it.” ―Bookpage

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