The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History by Jonathan Franzen
(Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2006, 195 pages)
I thought I would read Franzen’s memoir before I read his latest book, Freedom. The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History is a collection of six essays which span his childhood, adolescence and adult life. Readers get glimpses of his personal life, discovering how he grew up to be the writer he is today. Franzen is brutally honest and hilarious at times.
Each of the six essays is a stand-alone story, so the book doesn’t have a cohesive story line to connect them. I found the stories on the “Peanuts” cartoon and high school pranks too detailed and somehow dull. I even put the book down for a few days to read something else. The two stories I enjoyed most were the story about the sale of his mother’s house (located in Webster Groves) after her death and the final story on how Franzen became a birder. I recommend the book only if you are a Franzen fan.