April 02, 2004

Franzen at Swarthmore

Posted by Ed

Something I did not know: the novelist Jonathan Franzen is a 1981 graduate of my alma mater, Swarthmore College.

Franzen recently visited Swarthmore, giving both a casual talk and a more formal speech (that included a reading from his novel The Corrections). Here's a quick excerpt from the daily Swarthmore email newsletter's article on the visit:

When asked how Swat academics affected his creative expression, Franzen recalled the first paper he wrote for English professor Chuck James's class, which received a C+. He then discovered that good writing was hard work, and strove to avoid classes that required papers.

He also noted that there is a grand Swarthmore tradition of pretending knowledge, and that that skill is a useful one for novelists, who "need to pretend to know everything on the page."

On what to avoid as a young writer, Franzen advised Oprah and cigarettes.

One of these days, I may get around to reading The Corrections. I'm more likely to do so, now that I know about Franzen's Swarthmore connection. (For those of you who are curious, here's a Globe and Mail profile of Franzen that mentions the Swarthmore connection.)

Posted by Ed at April 2, 2004 11:56 AM


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