I shouldn’t have started reading Freedon by Jonathan Franzen immediately after finishing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. The expression “self-conscious”, occurring every few pages in both books, marks the claustrophobia I’m starting to feel. Manhattan is small, North America is smaller, our Western World is minuscule and cramped and we animals are dying, me in particular, I’m literally asphyxiating.

The paradox is that I’m flying to Hawaii in August, where the vacationing Western World will be condensing its obsessions, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. All that water. Do you remember from the Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy, many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans. I will need a new snorkel.

More about Freedom More about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close