I read The Corrections in 2002, after the whole Oprah debacle and was completely blown away. Jen got me his first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City and that book cemented Jonathan Franzen near the top of my list of favorite authors. Imagine my delight then, when it was announced that Franzen would be doing a reading at Christ Church Cathedral in support of his most recent work, Freedom. We got there just before the reading and the place was packed — it had already been moved to Christ Church from a smaller venue to accommodate the crowd. Jen had a seat, but her view was blocked by a pillar. I stood nearby, with a view of the podium and in front of the A/C. Standing was fine, and the room was quite warm, so it probably worked out for the best.
After a glowing introduction, Franzen came out and spoke for a couple minutes about his trepidation when it comes to reading in his hometown. He then read from Freedom for 15 or 20 minutes and took questions for another 30 or 40 minutes. The reading was great, and the questions led to some interesting insights about his writing process and the ordeal of creating and promoting such a thing.
Once the questions wrapped, they started queueing up people for the book signing. Since we were among the last to arrive, we were in group 12. I used the time to start reading, and the book has held up to the incredible hype. Once I got the book signed, we made our way home.
Looking back at my narration of the event, it doesn’t sound that exciting, but it was a great time and the opportunity to meet one of my favorite authors was very cool. Thanks to Left Bank Books for putting this all together.