The Discomfort Zone
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First edition cover
Jacket design by Lynn Buckley|
Jacket art: "Map of a Man's Heart", from McCall's Magazine, January 1960, pp. 32-33. Adapted from nineteenth-century originals by Jo (Lowrey) Leeds and the editors of McCall's.
|Publisher||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|September 5, 2006|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||195 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||0-374-29919-6 (first edition, hardback)|
|813/.54 B 22|
|LC Class||PS3556.R352 Z46 2006|
According to L'espresso, The Discomfort Zone reflects the values and contradictions of the American midwest in the 1960s. Franzen holds up Charlie Brown from the Peanuts cartoons as an exemplary representation of life of the American middle class in the author's home town of Webster Groves, Missouri, and countless similar towns. Values such as the love of nature are described as being related to traditional Protestant values, and as waning because of the decline of traditional religious belief.
Perhaps most importantly, Franzen explores the duality of solitude and interpersonal relationships. Primarily using his mother's death as a metaphor for all human relationships, Franzen concludes that relationships are essential to our existence although we often fail to recognize and appreciate their importance at the time.
- "House for Sale" (the author's mother, the family house)
- "Then Joy Breaks Through" (Christian education)
- "Centrally Located"
- "The Foreign Language"
- "My Bird Problem" (the author's marriage, his birding hobby)
- National Book Foundation 2001 National Book Award Winners and Finalists
- National Book Foundation Jonathan Franzen National Book Award Acceptance Speech
- "C´era una volta il Midwest", L´Espresso, August 24, 2006, p. 120.
- Chapter One, "House for Sale," in The Guardian
- A list of Discomfort Zone reviews at The Complete Review
- Presentation by Franzen on The Discomfort Zone at the Miami Book Fair International, November 18, 2006
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