The End of the End of the Earth

Essays
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
4 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A sharp and provocative new essay collection from the award-winning author of Freedom and The Corrections.  

The way essayist, Jonathan Franzen writes, is like “a fire-fighter, whose job, while everyone else is fleeing the flames of shame, is to run straight into them.” For the past 25 years, even as his novels have earned him worldwide acclaim, Franzen has led a second life as a risk-taking essayist.

Now, at a moment when technology has inflamed tribal hatreds and the planet is beset by unnatural calamities, he is back with a new collection of essays that recall us to more humane ways of being in the world. Franzen’s great loves are literature and birds, and The End of the End of the Earth is a passionate argument for both. Where the new media tend to confirm one’s prejudices, he writes, literature “invites you to ask whether you might be somewhat wrong, maybe even entirely wrong, and to imagine why someone else might hate you.” 

Whatever his subject, Franzen’s essays are always skeptical of received opinion, steeped in irony, and frank about his own failings. He’s frank about birds, too (they kill “everything imaginable”), but his reporting and reflections on them - on seabirds in New Zealand, warblers in East Africa, penguins in Antarctica - are both a moving celebration of their beauty and resilience and a call to action to save what we love.

Calm, poignant, carefully argued, full of wit, The End of the End of the Earth provides a welcome breath of hope and reason. 

©2018 Jonathan Franzen (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Robert] Petkoff hits the difficult balance between being ironic and earnest that is so characteristic of the author's essays.... Petkoff makes sure this is an entertaining, as well as contemplative, experience." (AudioFile)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

brilliant! Every essay is a journey onto itself…

The writing and THINKING is superb and brilliantly wrought as one would expect from Jonathan Franzen. Robert Petkoff’s delivery, however, conforms to the prevailing standards of hyper-clarity… A plodding pace, scrupulously articulating every syllable and every ending consonant. Although he is very skilled I find it a bit labored and, on a long drive, exhausting on the ear… I much prefer the more relaxed, conversational - and therefore MUCH CLEARER – delivery of Dennis Boutsikaris (The Human Stain) or Richard Poe (East of Eden). (Not to be hard on Robert Petkoff… He may well have been following the directions of his producer who assumes that, since Jonathan Franzen frequently writes in long, compound, complex sentences, the delivery must be slowed down and exaggerated in the interest of clarity. Actually, (to my ears) the opposite is true: Our brains are NATURALLY TUNED to apprehend the cadences of normal conversation... not to the arduous enunciations of HYPER – CLARITY.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Many excellent essays.

As a birder and environmentalist I had a particular interest in this book. The essay on the birds of the middle east was worth the price of the book but there were several more essays that were interesting and moving. There were 1 or 2 I could have skipped.

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    3 out of 5 stars

not that exciting unless you like birds

I was a huge fan of the corrections so I was looking forward to this. although some parts were engaging a lot of it just didn't grab me. Also about half of it is about bird-watching which I was hoping I might get into But ultimately did not find that interesting. The narration was great though.