Tuesday, November 08, 2011

And Now A Word From Jonathan Franzen

Introducing a new series called And Now A Word From... in which we will be posting quotes from various people regarding their art. 

In an interview in The Paris Review, Jonathan Franzen remarked on maturing as a writer:

When The Twenty-Seventh City was being misunderstood, and when Strong Motion was failing to find an audience, I assumed that the problem was not the writer but the wicked world. By the time I was working on Freedom, though, I could see that some of the contemporaneous criticisms of those books had probably been valid—that the first really was overdefended and inexplicably angry, and that the politics and thriller plotting (and, again, the inexplicable anger) of the second really were sometimes obtrusive. The writer’s life is a life of revisions, and I came to think that what needed revision were my own earlier books

One of the great problems for the novelist who persists is the shortage of material. We all solve the problem in different ways; some people do ­voluminous research on nineteenth-century Peru. The literature I’m interested in and want to produce is about taking the cover off our superficial lives and delving into the hot stuff underneath. After The Corrections I found myself thinking, What is my hot material? My Midwestern childhood, my parents, their marriage, my own marriage—I’d already written two books about this stuff, but I’d been younger and scared and less skilled when I wrote them. So one of the many programs in Freedom was to revisit the old material and do a better job.
-Jonathan Franzen

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