discomfort zone-jonathan franzen

“…I came to feel that the house had been my mother’s novel, the concrete story she told about herself. She’d started with the cheap, homely department-store boilerplate she’d bought in 1944. She’d added and replaced various passages as funds permitted, reupholstering sofas and armchairs, accumulating artwork ever less awful than the prints she’d picked up as a twenty-three year-old, abandoning her original arbitrary color schemes as she discovered and refined the true interior colors that she carried within her like a destiny. She pondered the arrangement of paintings on the wall like a writer pondering commas. She sat in the rooms year after year and asked herself what might suit her even better. What she wanted was for you to come inside and feel embraced and delighted by what she’d made; she was showing you herself, by way of hospitality; she wanted you to want to stay.” (23-4) House For Sale


3 thoughts on “discomfort zone-jonathan franzen

  1. the artist’s way:

    “Schulz wasn’t an artist because he suffered. He suffered because he was an artist. To keep choosing art over the comforts of a normal life-to grind out a strip every day for fifty years; to pay the very steep psychic price for this-is the opposite of damaged. It’s the sort of choice that only a tower of strength and sanity can make. The reason that Schulz’s early sorrows look like ‘sources’ of his later brilliance is that he had the talent and resilience to find humor in them. Almost every young person experiences sorrows. What’s distinctive about Schulz’s childhood is not his suffering but the fact that he loved comics from an early age, was gifted at drawing, and had the undivided attention of two loving parents.” (43) Two Ponies

    “My father, my rational ally, who by his own testimony had married my mother because ‘she was a good writer and I thought a good writer could do anything,’ and who’d chafed against her romantic nature ever since, encouraged me to be a scientist and discouraged me from fancy writing. One Christmas, as a present, he built me a serious lab bench, and for a while I enjoyed imagining myself keeping a more rigorous notebook. My first and last experiment was to isolate ‘pure nylon’ by melting a scrap of panty hose in a crucible. Turning to astronomy, I again was happy as long as I was reading books, but these books reprinted pages from amateur stargazing logs whose orderly example I couldn’t follow even for one minute. I just wanted to look at pretty things.” (103) Centrally Located

    “Adolescence is best enjoyed without self-consciousness, but self-consciousness, unfortunately, is its leading symptom. Even when something important happens to you, even when your heart’s getting crushed or exalted, even when you’re absorbed in building the foundations of a personality, there come these moments when you’re aware that what’s happening is not the real story. Unless you actually die, the real story is still ahead of you. This alone, this cruel mixture of consciousness and irrelevance, this built-in hollowness, is enough to account for how pissed off you are. You’re miserable and ashamed if you don’t believe your adolescent troubles matter, but you’re stupid if you do.” (113) Centrally Located

  2. short and sweet:

    “When private donations replaced federal spending, you had no idea who was freeloading and who was pulling twice their weight.” (18) House For Sale

    “But it’s useless to contradict TV; people look at me with suspicion, or hostility, or pity, as if I’m deeply in denial.” (60) Then Joy Breaks Through

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