The Discomfort Zone A Personal History Author:Jonathan Franzen As Jonathan Franzen tells it, he was the kind of boy who was afraid of spiders, school dances, urinals, music teachers, boomerangs, popular girls-and his parents. He had nothing against geeky kids except a desperate fear of being taken for one of them, a fate that would result in instant Social Death. Approaching puberty the way a fraud artist... more » confronts a particularly tough scam, he pretended to be a kid who naturally said "shit" a lot and didn't enjoy doing calculations on his new six-function Texas Instruments calculator.
The Discomfort Zone is Franzen's intimate memoir of growing up squirming in his own uber-sensitive skin, from a "small and fundamentally ridiculous person," through a strangely happy adolescence, into an adult with strong and incovenient passions. His story daringly cascades from moments of high drama into multilayered fields of sometimes truculent, sometimes piercing, always entertaining investigation and insight. Whether he's writing about the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970's, the effects of Kafka's fiction on his own 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. His personal history of a Midwestern youth and a New York adulthood is warmed by the same blend of comic scrutiny and affection that characterizes his fiction; the result is an arresting portrait of a unique American heart and mind.« less