I spoke with Roz Chast, on the eve of her winning the National Book Critics Circle award for best memoir for her book Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? This book should be required reading for anyone with parents.
A year ago I interviewed Jonathan Franzen about his book, The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus, translated and annotated by Jonathan Franzen with Paul Reiter and Daniel Kehlmann (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) which is among the final five selections, in the category of Criticism, for the 2013 NBCC awards.
My intro is below, but you can read the entire interview at NBCC’s blog, Critical Mass.
At 6’2″, Jon Franzen fills the door frame of his New York City apartment where we meet, yet he’s not menacing in the least. In stocking feet and slightly stooping, he answers the door light-footed, friendly, buoyant even…not what you’d expect from the curmudgeonly misanthrope, Luddite, or any of the other names he’s been called by his detractors.
But scale, even at the name-calling level, is something Franzen can’t avoid. With the overall critical and commercial success of his two earlier novels, The Corrections and Freedom, and within those books his concomitant analysis of American society, he cemented the novel as not only relevant, but necessary in understanding the complexities of being human in a modern world. Needless to say, oversized gravitas shadows his work.