A writer has to be both boxer and trainer at the same time, and Franzen’s trainer is a hard-ass. He writes six or seven days a week, starting at 7 a.m. He’s often hoarse at the end of the day because he performs his dialogue out loud as he writes it. (This may account for its strikingly naturalistic quality. There are habits of American speech in Franzen’s books that I’ve never seen any other writer catch, like the tendency of teenagers to end sentences with a flat, noninterrogative “so.”) Franzen’s friends tend to be writers — The Corrections is dedicated to the short-fiction writer David Means and his wife; the late David Foster Wallace was perhaps his closest friend — so he has somebody to bitch about it with afterward. But the writing itself happens when he’s alone.

Franzen works in a rented office that he has stripped of all distractions. He uses a heavy, obsolete Dell laptop from which he has scoured any trace of hearts and solitaire, down to the level of the operating system. Because Franzen believes you can’t write serious fiction on a computer that’s connected to the Internet, he not only removed the Dell’s wireless card but also permanently blocked its Ethernet port. “What you have to do,” he explains, “is you plug in an Ethernet cable with superglue, and then you saw off the little head of it.”

Read the entire interview with Jonathan Franzen on this link:,8599,2010000-2,00.html#ixzz0yqvcRp4C


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