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Thread: The Discomfort Zone - Jonathan Franzen - DISCUSS!!!!

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    A*O
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    Default The Discomfort Zone - Jonathan Franzen - DISCUSS!!!!

    OK Ladies and Gents - Go for it!!!
    Why do people say "Grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding! -Betty White

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    A*O
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    BUMP!!!! After all the drama getting this thing up and running again surely SOMEONE has read the book???

    Poll for April's choice closes today. So far it looks like the melancholy whores are in the lead which is probably appropriate for this place.
    Why do people say "Grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding! -Betty White

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    ^^Yes, I think I'll start a site called the Melancholy Whores, lol. Don't forget, it's still Feb. 3 in some places, such as the West Coast.

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    A*O
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    OK - if nobody else is going to take the plunge I'll start.

    Obviously the book is autobiographical but I found the first few chapters were written in such a way that I thought he was the narrator in a fictional work. I didn't find it particularly 'comedic' because overall JF takes himself a little too seriously and those endless chunks of German quotes by Goethe and Mann were pure showing off IMO. Yes, we get it, you studied German. Go you. I was also a bit bored with the dissection of his On/Off first marriage. Overall I enjoyed the book - it's a pretty fast and easy read - but I thought it needed some more robust editing and the actual substance wasn't very enlightening really. I'd give it 6/10.
    Why do people say "Grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding! -Betty White

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    i like franzen, he's an über-nerd and was obviously a very serious, self-conscious kid. it's a very honest, almost mundane account of his childhood and adolescence and i think there are things that almost everyone can identify with. it's not as riveting as 'the corrections' but also not as painful, but there is just something about the way he describes families... i can think of few authors that capture so well that moment when you grow up and the relationship with your parents shifts irreversibly.
    i admit i still have about 50 pages to read (got sidetracked by another novel) so can't quite give my final verdict yet but so far i'm giving it a tentative 7/10
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    I enjoyed the first couple of chapters far more than the latter ones. As short as the book is, it got tedious for me towards the end. It gets a little indulgent in the latter half as well.

    Like A*O, I found the early chapters read more like a fictional narrative, and there was more wit and substance to be found in them. They seemed to flow better as well. I enjoyed Franzen's accounts of his family, trying to sell his mother's house and his involvement in Fellowship. The bird, marriage and German stuff I could have done without. I would agree with 6/10.
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

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    Elite Member Dixie Normos's Avatar
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    Generally, when someone writes an autobiography, it's because they had an interesting life they wanted to share.

    My rating 2/10
    Last edited by Dixie Normos; February 4th, 2008 at 05:36 PM.
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    that Heaven is a stranger place than than one I've left behind." - SM

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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tati View Post
    I enjoyed the first couple of chapters far more than the latter ones. As short as the book is, it got tedious for me towards the end. It gets a little indulgent in the latter half as well.
    Reading the first maybe third of the book went quicker for me, as well. I started trudging through after that. I think it was because it was going in several different directions. I agree that it became indulgent and that's probably part of my problem with it, too.

    That scene very early, maybe first chapter, of their trip to Disney World set the tone for me. I don't know what it was about that paricular moment, but something about it was so pathetically familiar - but not exactly.

    Like A*O said, it wasn't comedic, because Franzen takes himself too seriously.

    I give it 5/10. I was very meh about it after all was said and done. Can't say I disliked it, but I can't say I liked it.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    i like franzen, he's an über-nerd and was obviously a very serious, self-conscious kid. it's a very honest, almost mundane account of his childhood and adolescence and i think there are things that almost everyone can identify with. it's not as riveting as 'the corrections' but also not as painful, but there is just something about the way he describes families... i can think of few authors that capture so well that moment when you grow up and the relationship with your parents shifts irreversibly.
    i admit i still have about 50 pages to read (got sidetracked by another novel) so can't quite give my final verdict yet but so far i'm giving it a tentative 7/10
    I pretty much share the opinions already presented on the book so far, but I especially like what sputnik says here because I find it to be very true. It especially resonates for me personally now that my mother has Alzheimer's. I am actually re-reading The Corrections, which is one of my fave books about family dynamics.

    I was disappointed by this book to some extent, mainly because I'm not that interested in what most teenage boys think, but I did enjoy parts of it. Franzen is a talented writer and I loved the section about the hippie ministry. Brings back old memories for me.... Not sure if we are supposed to rate it, but I give it a 7/10.

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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacific breeze View Post
    I am actually re-reading The Corrections, which is one of my fave books about family dynamics.
    I've never read that, but when I was nosing around for TDZ, I kept seeing raves for The Corrections. I've was hesitant to read it after reading this one, because I was sort of unimpressed, but now I'm thinking of checking it out.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    ^^Do, because I don't think you'll be disappointed. Warning: it's long.

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    it is long, but it's one of those long books you wish would never end. it really pulls you in and even though at times it's painful to read, you can't put it down. i'd also find myself thinking about it at random moments during the day. it's definitely one of those books that stays with you. it's definitely better than 'the discomfort zone', which i liked and which is very well written but it just doesn't have that same magic.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    I guess JF is very much the product of his childhood. His parents obviously loved him but both were very desiccated and there didn't seem to be much warmth or laughter in that household.
    Why do people say "Grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding! -Betty White

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    ^^It is a classic example of an uber-WASP family suffering from extreme repression of emotion, IMO. I recognize it, and understand it very well, which is probably why it resonates with me. sputnik, I have often thought about this book randomly, and probably for the reasons I just mentioned!

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