As a fan of Jonathan Franzen novels such as The Corrections and Freedom, in addition to being a total literature nerd, I was excited to see his new collection of essays collectively named Farther Away on the shelf. Consisting of a collection of essays, speeches, lectures and other bits of memoir, Farther Away is an absorbing and engaging must read for Franzen fans.
Arranged in reverse chronological order and varying in length and style, the elements of Franzen’s writing come together to produce a well-balanced and surprising read. I found the most fascinating contribution to be the title essay which takes place during Franzen’s journey to an isolated island off the coast of Chile. The essay combines a dissection of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, thoughts on the writing process in general, and a touching glimpse into how the death of his friend and fellow writer, David Foster Wallace, affected him as an author and person. Alone with only a lot of flies and his thoughts to keep him company, Franzen exposes himself and his personal feelings on life intertwined with the evolution of writing, beginning with the earliest forms of the novel. All of these elements combine to produce one of the most thought provoking essays in the collection.
Farther Away provides readers with captivating, powerful essays that produce a new desire to read well written books. The delicate balance Franzen produces between writer, text, and reader provide his audience with not only an excellent book, but new thoughts on how to enjoy literature as well. - Kelli, Reference