The Discomfort Zone

The Discomfort Zone

A Personal History

Book - 2006
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Jonathan Franzen arrived late, and last, in a family of boys in Webster Groves, Missouri. The Discomfort Zone is his intimate memoir of his growth from a "small and fundamentally ridiculous person," through an adolescence both excruciating and strangely happy, into an adult with embarrassing and unexpected passions. It's also a portrait of a middle-class family weathering the turbulence of the 1970s, and a vivid personal history of the decades in which America turned away from its midcentury idealism and became a more polarized society.

The story Franzen tells here draws on elements as varied as the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafka's fiction on his protracted quest to lose his virginity, the elaborate pranks that he and his friends orchestrated from the roof of his high school, his self-inflicted travails in selling his mother's house after her death, and the web of connections between his all-consuming marriage, the problem of global warming, and the life lessons to be learned in watching birds.

These chapters of a Midwestern youth and a New York adulthood are warmed by the same combination of comic scrutiny and unqualified affection that characterize Franzen's fiction, but here the main character is the author himself. Sparkling, daring, arrestingly honest, The Discomfort Zone narrates the formation of a unique mind and heart in the crucible of an everyday American family.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374299194
Branch Call Number: 813.54 FRANZEN
Characteristics: 195 pages ; 22 cm.


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Jan 06, 2017

Fabulous writer, this autobiographical book has occasionally a bit too much detail but a good read.

Jul 08, 2011

This man can write - however , this book starts slowly - ends well. Nice effort !

Dec 20, 2010

Surprisingly, you'll never find a better description of "birding" (bird watching) anywhere.

And of course it's always interesting to know where prominent authors are coming from. Franzen's window on US middle class teenagers in the 1970's is fascinating. He was fortunate to have really interesting adults (and friends) around him. The new awareness and probing of the complexities of our inner worlds were not just a San Franciso happening. These youth leaders in the Midwest were amazingly progressive.

Sep 03, 2010

Without doubt the most self-centered, self-indulgent, and, as a result, irrelevant book I've yet read in 70 years of reading. Jonathan Franzen sure slipped one past HarperCollins's editors. Shame on them and Mr. Franzen!


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Dec 18, 2017

I wanted to live in a "Peanuts"world where rage was funny and insecurity was lovable. The littlest kid in my "Peanuts" books, Sally Brown, grew older for a while and then hit a glass ceiling and went no further. I wanted everyone in my family to get along and nothing to change; but suddenly, after Tom ran away, it was as if the five of us looked around, asked why we should be spending time together, and failed to come up with a good answer. p.90

Nov 23, 2010

I was introduced to the German language by a young blond woman, Elisabeth, whom no word smaller than "voluptuous" suffices to describe.


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