(CCLaP is now selling rare and unusual books through the main website, shipped to customers through USPS Priority Mail and with full refunds always guaranteed. To see the latest full list of volumes for sale, please click here).
The Complete Novels of Jonathan Franzen
The Twenty-Seventh City (1988)
Strong Motion (1992)
The Corrections (2001)
All First Edition, First Printing
DESCRIPTION: In another hundred years from now, who will be the writers from our times still being admired and read on a regular basis (and more importantly, whose old first editions will now be worth tons of money)? Only future history will be able to tell us definitively, but you'd be making a pretty good gamble by saying Jonathan Franzen, who started his career as a bratty but brilliant wunderkind of the Postmodernist Age but has matured into a leading spokesman on the human condition here in our Millennial times. As of 2016 Franzen has published five novels altogether, each of them bestsellers; and today's listing presents all of them in one convenient sale, all five being offered in their first edition/first printing states, and with nearly all of them in exquisite like-new condition (but see the notes below for more).
The journey starts with 1988's The Twenty-Seventh City, a take on Franzen's hometown of St. Louis when it was seeing nearly its nadir as an urban center (the title refers to the city's population rank in the '80s, when at its height in the Victorian Age it was the fourth largest city in the US), a complex and mature thriller that weaves in city history, police surveillance, the rise of Asian immigration to former Midwestern industrial centers, and the various quirks that make St. Louis such a unique destination. We then move on to 1992's Strong Motion, the first of Franzen's epics about dysfunctional families, which uses the metaphor of earthquakes on America's east coast to comment on the "violent systems" of science and religion at the close of the 20th century (and set, incidentally, in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a favorite literary destination as well of John Updike and John Cheever).
And then of course there is 2001's The Corrections where everything changed for Franzen; an explosively popular book that changed the very nature of the American arts itself, it won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Prize, all of which pale in comparison to the controversy over Oprah picking it for her book club and Franzen publicly berating her for it, leading to a national conversation over high versus low culture and what the future of "fine literature" is to be. This was followed up by the most anticipated novel of his career so far, 2010's eco-industry black comedy Freedom; demand for pre-release copies was so high, no less than President Obama himself famously convinced a bookstore to slip him an early copy while on vacation at Martha's Vineyard. (Franzen was also featured on the cover of TIME because of it, the one and only time the magazine put an author on its cover during the entire first decade of the 21st century.) And that finally leaves us with his newest, Purity, released only a few months before today's sale, a sprawling saga that jumps from the American South to Communist East Berlin, South America, the virtual confines of cyberspace, and more.
Some of these books are easier to find individually and some are harder, but certainly there are few opportunities to pick all of them up at once using one convenient Paypal button like today; and for anyone who's serious about building a collection of modern classics that will appreciate and grow in value over the course of their life, this is almost too good an opportunity to pass up, a major jumpstart on becoming a "completist" collector of one of the most important writers of the early 21st century. This collection is anticipated to sell fast, so don't delay with your bid.
CONDITION: Dust jacket: All Fine/Like New except for Strong Motion, rated a high Very Good Plus (VG++) for having only one flaw, a tiny chip in the upper-right corner of the front flap. Text: All Like New (in fact, Freedom and Purity were literally acquired in their brand-new state), except for The Corrections which has a previous owner's information blacked out with magic marker on the inside front cover (see photos for more). It would be very difficult to find these books in better condition than they are here.
PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at various Chicago stores and dealers over the last three years, including Bibliodisia, Bookworks, and Unabridged Bookstore.