After her first sexual experience—a date rape at a high school party—Patty grasps the full extent of her parents’ indifference, in what is one of the book’s sharpest, most unsettling passages. She knew that you could love somebody more than anything and still not love the person all that much, if you were busy with other things.” The narrative picks up again in 2004 in Washington, where Walter, with a comely young assistant in tow, has become involved with a dubious conservation effort involving Dick Cheney, a coal-mining company, and the fastest-declining songbird in North America. ”Patty’s thwarted need for victory became a way into the novel, the majority of which was eventually written in one seven-month sprint.
Meanwhile, Patty, for whom building the perfect nest was a way to win against her “creative” siblings, finds herself in midlife plummet. “I was once married to a person who was very competitive, who was very competitive with me,” says Franzen.
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“I like the fact that novels in other languages are called some version of romance,” says Jonathan Franzen, sitting at the antique wood dining table of his book-filled Upper East Side apartment.
For some, it is the anniversary of their death in human form or the anniversary of their birth on earth, or even both dates.
Many native American tribes had different rituals for how they respected and recognized the dead.You can also find us in the i Tunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week.“There is not a thing in it that actually happened to me, and yet it’s the book that draws most directly on my experience of being, and the path my life has taken.To take the lid off the innermost can of worms, which is what I feel I did in this book, I went to all the stuff I was most ashamed of, most uncomfortable writing about, stuff that was least resolved in me.” In evoking the tenderness—and increasing toxicity—of Patty and Walter’s marital world, he drew upon the fourteen years he was married, as well as the long, often adversarial marriage of his parents, moving them up a generation.And I initially thought this book was my romance with Patty.”Romance might seem like an odd—even dangerous—word for a male author to use with regard to his female protagonist.But writing full-blooded women of complexity and fallibility has never been a problem for the 51-year-old author, whose deliberate manner, salt-and-pepper hair, and classic tortoiseshell glasses belie a certain essential boyishness.“Roman in German, roman in French, romanzo in Italian.Because they should be romances for the reader, but they have to before that be romances for the writer.This week we’re starting our new summer season, in which we’ll read work by the less-famous halves of writer couples.To kick it off, we discuss an essay called “Envy” by Kathryn Chetkovich, in which she writes about the crippling jealousy she felt after her boyfriend, Jonathan Franzen, published a little book called The Corrections.