Every so often (or very rarely), I stumble upon a book that compels me to plough through the author’s entire backlog until I am one or two books short of completion (the thought of having read an author’s entire backlog saddens me). This has happened exactly twice before — first with Ian McEwan and then with Haruki Murakami — (and I’ve meant to do this with Ishiguro), but it’s been a while since an author has compelled me so until recently.
Jonathan Franzen is one of those authors I resisted because of all the attention buzzing around him. (McEwan was the same; I refused to read Atonement because of the buzz; and, then, I picked it up, read it, and ploughed through 90% of his backlog.) I mean, I liked him; Franzen is articulate, witty, and charming; and I enjoyed hearing him speak when he came to the LAPL Aloud program last September despite the insipid woman who was supposed to be ‘in conversation with’ him. But as far as picking up his writing went — that didn’t happen until January of this year when I took the plunge and picked up The Corrections. And, may I confess, I might have been all shades of blue and grey the whole way through, but I’ve been on a Franzen spree since. (And I dare say I do prefer his nonfiction over his fiction, but that statement isn’t meant to depreciate the value of his fiction any.)
It helps that his backlog isn’t as extensive as either McEwan’s or Murakami’s, and I’m only one book short as far as possession goes. I’ll read Freedom now, then The Twenty-Seventh City, then Strong Motion, and then I’ll be done — or I say I’ll read all three, and I will eventually, but chances are that I’ll read Freedom and probably The Twenty-Seventh City because I have a habit where I must read all my favourite authors’ first novels (if so available — unfortunately, Murakami’s isn’t available in English translation) then stow Strong Motion away for later so that I’ll have a ‘new’ Franzen to read later on.