Tag Archives: jonathan franzen

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists Announced

Craig Morgan Teicher -- February 22nd, 2011

The LA Times has announced the finalists for its annual book prizes in 10 categories (current interest, fiction, first fiction, biography, history, mystery-thriller, science and technology, graphic novel, poetry and young adult literature). Jonathan Franzen and Patti Smith are among the authors named, as are Lauren Hillenbrand, Jennifer Egan and the poet Maxine Kumin.

Click after the break for the complete list of finalists.  The winners will be announced on April 29.

Continue reading

The Art of Freedom

Craig Morgan Teicher -- December 8th, 2010

Jonathan Franzen is having his turn as the subject of one of the Paris Review‘s “The Art of Fiction” interviews, excerpts of which you can now read on the Paris Review‘s Web site.

Here’s a bit of Franzen on his writing powers and Freedom:

When I was younger, the main struggle was to be a “good writer.” Now I more or less take my writing abilities for granted, although this doesn’t mean I always write well. And, by a wide margin, I’ve never felt less self- consciously preoccupied with language than I did when I was writing Freedom.

You’ll have to buy the issue to read the whole interview, but check out the Web site for a 3 graph sample.

The PW Morning Report: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- November 17th, 2010

Today’s links:

Amazon Goes to the Movies: Amazon is launching a new business bent on finding new talent in the film industry and producing movies. [Press Release]

Franzen and Moore At the Y: Jonathan Franzen and Lorrie Moore gave a reading at the 92 St. Y earlier this week, and the NYT‘s Papercuts blog was there to cover the event with a humorous flair.

iPad For Sale At Sam’s Club: After Walmart got the iPad, it was only a matter of time before Walmart’s discount store got it too.  The base model is $11 cheaper at Sam’s (though the difference is made up for by membership dues in the club). From TUAW.

The World’s Ten Best Bookstores: Lonely Planet has named 10 bookstores the best in the world.  Have you shopped at any of them?

“A Fray Over Frey’s Play to Prey on M.F.A.’s”: That is the awesome headline of this Chronicle for Higher Education article about James Frey’s new business venture.

Writers Head to Video Games: Writers are finding work in the video game industry, according to the New York Observer.

Franzen Glasses Gate: Author’s Glasses Stolen Off Nose At London Event

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 4th, 2010

According to a series of Tweets posted by Graeme Neill of The Bookseller, someone ran into the Franzen event held today in London, stole his glasses right off his face, and left a ransom note behind, asking for $100,000 for their safe return. In a later Tweet, posted in response to the Twittersphere’s disbelief, Neill wrote, “honestly. I saw the note.”

To ward off any accusations, noted Franzen-Frenzy-opponent Jennifer Weiner Tweeted, “I am in London, but had nothing to do with FranzenGlassesGate. I’m much more interested in swiping Galassi’s monocle (he has one, right?)”  Watch out Galassi!

Franzen’s Twitter doppelganger, @EmperorFranzen has a practical Tweet for the thief: “TO THE THIEF WHO STOLE MY GLASSES: I need them back to read your friggin’ ransom note. Idiot.”

Such, it would seem, is the price of literary super-stardom.

Tao Lin: The Next Jonathan Franzen?

Craig Morgan Teicher -- September 22nd, 2010

Tao Lin is a polarizing figure–basically, most people either love or hate him, and it’s not even necessary to have read his deadpan, self-deprecating fiction to develop one feeling or the other.  But, whatever you feel–about Tao Lin or Jonathan Franzen–you will probably find the image above humorous.  It’s the cover of the current issue of the alt-weekly The Stranger, a parody of Franzen’s Time cover featuring not Franzen but Tao Lin.

So what do you think?  Hilarious or furious?  Here’s our (unstarred) review of Lin’s most recent novel, Richard Yates.

Freedom Video-Reviewed by Ron Charles

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 31st, 2010

Click this picture to see the video

Ron Charles the video reviewer is back, this time with official Washington Post sponsorship.  Today, he takes on the most buzzed book ever, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which officially comes out today.  The world is changed. Click here to see the video.

Note the cameo by an assortment of Beanie Baby birds, and Charles’ clever use of editing technology to illustrate his points.  Especially moving is the scene that takes place in 1834, back when the whole world was sepia (it was–really–look at the pictures…).  This video is a masterpiece worthy of David Pogue, the NYT tech critic who perfected the art of the silly product review.  We’re looking forward to more of these videos from Mr. Charles.

Jodi Picoult Does Not Like Kakutani Liking Franzen

Jonathan Segura -- August 19th, 2010

The NYTPicker has some context on Jodi Picoult’s Twitter flip-out about the rave review the New York Times gave to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, The Most Important Novel Ever in the History of Novels Ever. Basically, Picoult took a swipe at the NYT & Michiko Kakutani for praising the book, which was written by a “white male literary darling.” Picoult, you’ll note, is none of those things, and, says NYTPicker, laments “her own feelings of mistreatment by the NYT,” which has panned her books.

Picoult’s feelings aside, the “white male” argument is, in this case, a sieve. Go ahead. Have a quick look-see at the stuff the NYT’s reviewed lately. See? Lot of stuff in there getting nice reviews, much of it not written by white dudes.

But, as for this particular white male literary darling’s relationship with the NYT, and, specifically, Kakutani, I think it might be worth stepping back just a touch. Like, back to 2006, when Kakutani shredded Franzen’s The Discomfort Zone, calling it an “odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass: petulant, pompous, obsessive, selfish and overwhelmingly self-absorbed.” A couple years later, Franzen struck back, calling Kakutani “The stupidest person in New York City.”

Can’t you feel the chumminess? The warmth? The mutual admiration?

But, let’s open this up a bit. One of my favorite Kakutani pans of a white, male literary darling is her take-down of Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones, which contains this gem of a graf:

The novel’s gushing fans, however, seem to have mistaken perversity for daring, pretension for ambition, an odious stunt for contrarian cleverness. Willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent, “The Kindly Ones” — the title is a reference to the Furies, otherwise known in Greek mythology as the Eumenides — is an overstuffed suitcase of a book, consisting of an endless succession of scenes in which Jews are tortured, mutilated, shot, gassed or stuffed in ovens, intercut with an equally endless succession of scenes chronicling the narrator’s incestuous and sadomasochistic fantasies.

There are plenty of others out there. What’s your favorite?

The Rumpus Launches Franzen Book Club

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 16th, 2010

This is going to be the season of Franzen.  Not only is he on the cover of every fancy magazine in America, but the Rumpus is sponsoring a special one-off version of its book club (which we told you about a few weeks ago) for Franzen’s highly, highly anticipated new novel, Freedom, which comes out August 31st (but we’ll tell you a secret–advance hardcovers have already been mailed out, so you might be able to find one).

Here’s more info from the Rumpus:

How it works: Almost exactly like The Rumpus Book Club except you don’t get the book in advance and the book club will only exist for one month. We’ll be sending out books right around the publication date, August 28. We’ll create an email discussion group for the book, highlight some of our members thoughts on The Rumpus, and on either September 23 or 24 we’ll host a one-hour online discussion between the book club members and Jonathan Franzen.

And here’s one interesting detail about how they’re running this show: you can either buy the book from the Rumpus or from you’re local indie bookseller, in which case you can join the club for free.  But, “Books purchased from Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon are ineligible.”  Take that big business!

Franzen Also Profiled in Vogue

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 12th, 2010

Does Franzen have a book coming out or something?  Jeez.  Not only is he the first living writer to take the cover of Time in a decade, but he’s also the subject of a profile in the September issue of Vogue.  You can read the whole profile right now at the magazine’s Web site, but here’s a juicy excerpt:

Freedom is my most autobiographical book,” [Franzen] says. “There is not a thing in it that actually happened to me, and yet it’s the book that draws most directly on my experience of being, and the path my life has taken. To take the lid off the innermost can of worms, which is what I feel I did in this book, I went to all the stuff I was most ashamed of, most uncomfortable writing about, stuff that was least resolved in me.”

It’s Time For Franzen

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 12th, 2010

Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom may be the most highly-anticipated book of the season.  So much so that he’s the first living author in a decade to make the cover of Time magazine.  The cover story is a profile of Frazen by book critic Lev Grossman set to run in the August issue.

In our starred review of the book, we noted that the author is now “no longer content merely to record [a] breakdown, Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving at–incredibly–genuine hope.”