Farther Away by Jonathan Franzen
Farther Away is an essay collection by Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections and Freedom, the title essay of which was published in the New Yorker in April, 2011. The ranging collection includes travel writing, a University commencement speech and several short book reviews among many others.
Reviewer: Anthony Domestico
"There is an interesting tension between Franzen’s crisp, clear prose – even intensely self-reflexive passages are crisply, clearly so – and the digressive form his essays often take. The best pieces in “Farther Away” are loose, baggy monsters, combining personal reflection, cultural analysis, and philosophical introspection."
Reviewer: Emily Withrow
"The texts are both a testament to and an illustration of what attracts people to books—a delicate play between writer, text, character, and reader that prompts excellent questions and provides surprising answers."
Reviewer: Geoff Dyer
"One way or another, the essays in Farther Away are attempts to enlarge the place where literature, and the responsiveness to it, can be preserved."
Reviewer: Paul Clements
"Though seemingly preoccupied with writing and literature, his essays travel many subjects and moods...There is also gentle humour, and the odd laugh-out-loud moment"
Reviewer: James Santel
"Farther Away carries little of that fighting spirit. This is not to say that it isn't an excellent, passionate book. But it's a much looser collection than How to Be Alone — an assemblage, really, of the trappings that come with being dubbed your generation's major novelist."
Reviewer: Chris Wallace
"Franzen can sound like an old fogey—as he well admits, when bristling about people on their cell phones—even when it is in the service of a greater point. But he is nothing if not powerfully earnest, and it is fascinating to read him struggling, baldly, palpably, with both his own personal problems and the great topics of our time."
Reviewer: Noah Stayton
"Franzen brings the reader close (uncomfortably, at times) to facets of life not usually examined...Not every piece soars, but none fails to get off the ground"
Reviewer: Phillip Lopate
"His novels work best through patient accumulation of social detail and character development. By contrast, the I-character in his essays is not as strongly developed, nor as vivid. He is better able to convey moral irony by dramatizing a fictional conflict than by baldly stating his views."
Reviewer: Sean Hoen
"In a few of the pieces, one might argue that Franzen simply coasts on his literary prowess. The collection’s eponymous essay, for example, reads as a loosely stitched, overstuffed odyssey describing the author’s bungled solo adventure to a remote island in the South Pacific"
Reviewer: Craig Fehrman
"Unfortunately, those qualities are largely missing from Franzen's "Farther Away," a new collection of essays that's beautifully written, but bland. It's the book of a writer who's calming down."
Reviewer: George Pendle
"A whiff of caustic superiority floats over the essays, coating everything but his true passions in disdain. Franzen is too self-aware not to realise he can sound like a prig, one of a horde of “cranky 51-year-olds” dissing social media. This doesn’t mean he isn’t one."
Reviewer: David L. Ulin
"But if, at times, Franzen himself seems to want to frame the collection as his side of an ongoing discussion with his dead friend about art and life and the necessity of engagement,...that is, ultimately, too reductive a lens."
Reviewer: Zsuzsi Gartner
"someone who has been touted as the next great American writer should have more self-respect than to allow this indiscriminate mélange to be published as a book....He’s awkward writing in the first person, but when the spotlight is elsewhere, he shines."