The End of the End of the Earth: Essays

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A sharp and provocative new essay collection from the award-winning author of Freedom and The Corrections

The essayist, Jonathan Franzen writes, is like “a fire-fighter, whose job, while everyone else is fleeing the flames of shame, is to run straight into them.” For the past twenty-five years, even as his novels have earned him worldwide acclaim, Franzen has led a second life as a risk-taking essayist. Now, at a moment when technology has inflamed tribal hatreds and the planet is beset by unnatural calami- ties, he is back with a new collection of essays that recall us to more humane ways of being in the world.

Franzen’s great loves are literature and birds, and The End of the End of the Earth is a passionate argument for both. Where the new media tend to confirm one’s prejudices, he writes, literature “invites you to ask whether you might be somewhat wrong, maybe even entirely wrong, and to imagine why someone else might hate you.” Whatever his subject, Franzen’s essays are always skeptical of received opinion, steeped in irony, and frank about his own failings. He’s frank about birds, too (they kill “everything imaginable”), but his reporting and reflections on them―on seabirds in New Zealand, warblers in East Africa, penguins in Antarctica―are both a moving celebration of their beauty and resilience and a call to action to save what we love.

Calm, poignant, carefully argued, full of wit, The End of the End of the Earth provides a welcome
breath of hope and reason.

3 comments on “The End of the End of the Earth: Essays”

  1. A Bleak Outlook Tempered by Sound Advice Jonathan Franzen is often caricatured as an angry man. Angry at conservatives for ignoring humankind’s devastation of the planet and angry at liberals for their smug feeling of moral superiority despite few tangible accomplishments.However, there is very little anger in The End of the End of the Earth. Instead there is, if not despair, at least a bleak feeling of unstoppable loss permeating the text. Franzen devotes relatively few pages to criticizing Trump and his ilk and...

  2. Tearjerker essays... Really, I don't know that I've ever before teared up reading essays. I love most of Franzen's writing, and this book exceeds expectations. I feel as though we've been waiting for these essays to help us cope with the horrors of climate change and the accompanying existential crisis. And now that the frigging midterms are over, I can find a nature conservancy group to join. Thank you, Jonathan.

  3. There's plenty here to delight those who are fond of Jonathan Franzen Whether it's birdwatching, literary criticism or the rough edges of his life as a self-described "depressive pessimist," Jonathan Franzen returns to familiar territory in his new book of essays, THE END OF THE END OF THE EARTH. Comprising 16 pieces, the collection displays Franzen's undisputed skill as a writer, but there's a slightness to the book that makes one wonder whether he wouldn't have been better advised to wait to flesh it out with a few more substantial essays, like some of the ones...

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