[Review] The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History by Jonathan Franzen

As promised, here's Part 2 of my Jonathan Franzen feature books.


Title: The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History
Author: Jonathan Franzen
Page: 195 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Subject: Memoir
First Published: September 1st 2002


The Discomfort Zone is Jonathan Franzen’s tale of growing up, squirming in his own über-sensitive skin, from a “small and fundamentally ridiculous person,” into an adult with strong inconvenient passions. Whether he’s writing about the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafka’s fiction on his protracted quest to lose his virginity, or the web of connections between bird watching, his all-consuming marriage, and the problem of global warming, Franzen is always feelingly engaged with the world we live in now. The Discomfort Zone is a wise, funny, and gorgeously written self-portrait by one of America’s finest writers.

- Synopsis from www.goodreads.com

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, The Discomfort Zone is Jonathan Franzen's memoir of growing up in Webster Groves, Missouri up until his adulthood in the New York City. This book is not merely an autobiography, instead the author also engages the readers with the society around him and the world we live in now.

Around the grab of subjects discussed by the author; learning German and German literature (Franz Kafka, Nietzsche, etc..), the Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, bird-watching, the problems of global warming and the politics.

Overall, I think this is an honest and affectionate piece of writing, warmed by the occasional blend of humor and fun read. In How to be Alone Franzen recounted his father's struggles with Alzheimer's, in this book he told about his childhood & adolescent years (over-protective mother, school pranks, nerdy and anxiety-ridden child whose fears consist of, among others: spiders, school, dances, music teachers, boomerangs, popular girls and his parents).  

This is a more personal piece of writing where the author explores human relationships (using his mother's death as an example) and concludes that relationships are important in life but the one thing that we may sometimes take for granted.

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