The End of the End of the Earth by Jonathan Franzen

Staff Pick

Jonathan Franzen opens The End of the End of the Earth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26), his urgent collection of nonfiction, by trying to establish the rules of what he’s doing. Is an essay “something ventured on the basis of the author’s personal experience,” or is it “the formal apparatus of honest self-examination and sustained engagement with ideas”? Franzen covers friendships and family dramas, but also reports on the state of the environment and relentlessly questions his role as a privileged Westerner in a world of vast inequality. Above all, he puts everything in the context of climate change. “Global warming is the issue of our time, perhaps the biggest issue in all of human history.” Given that the Anthropocene may mean the end of civilization, how do we live in it? How do we think about it? In order to “accept the reality in time to prepare for it humanely,” one rule might be looking squarely at what’s there and how our actions are affecting it. Franzen does this by watching birds. They are for him “a way of experiencing” the place he’s in as well as “the most visible indicator of a healthy ecosystem.”

The End of the End of the Earth: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374147938
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 13th, 2018

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