The Art of Fiction

Interview of the Month: Jonathan Franzen

ONE USE ONLY FOR SEVEN jonathan franzen photographed for seven by jonathan frantini

Among the curious tidbits scattered among the larger morsels in The Paris Review‘s 2010 interview with blockbuster author Jonathan Franzen for that journal’s series titled The Art of Fiction, we might find:

  • The six books on Franzen’s desk at UC Santa Cruz – Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, four works by John Steinbeck, and a study of William Faulkner.
  • His stance on the writing process: “The writer’s life is a life of revisions.”
  • The two emotions associated closely with writer’s block: “Shame and fear.”
  • Word most hated by Msr. Franzen: Creative.
  • A speech that highly influenced the author: Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Nobel acceptance speech.
  • His most surprisingly un-writerly admission: “I just like attention, I do!”
  • And finally, the length in pages of Franzen’s manuscript of his first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, completed when he was twenty-five: Thirteen hundred.

A florid bow to The Review Review‘s founder and editress, Becky Tuch, for recommending this article in a profile of Tuch at The Missouri Review blog.