Jonathan Franzen

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

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October 2021, no. 436

Back when it was all beginning, when everything was new and makeshift and oddly tentative; when the sounds of Faye Wong echoed through Tower Records; when the media could channel a message via magazines bearing Fiona Apple’s face, and television sets, those ancient conduits, mainlined Friends and Seinfeld and NYPD Blue; when everything was tuned to the suffering channel, The X-Files was concluding its third season, and Jackie Chan was launching his fourth Police Story; when all of this seemed obscurely relevant, three men – Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, and Mark Leyner – sat down to talk with Charlie Rose. Their topic? The future of fiction.

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Purity by Jonathan Franzen

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October 2015, no. 375

There was a moment around the time of the release of the final Harry Potter novel when I began to suspect the hype had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It wasn’t an event because of the book any more, it was an event because everybody knew it was an event.

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In 1996, with two well-received but not widely read novels to his credit, Jonathan Franzen published a long essay in Harper’s magazine in which he aired his concerns about the novel’s waning cultural authority...

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