An Extract from the First Chapter of Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’

What follows is an unofficial leak of the very first parts of Franzen’s ‘Purity’. Behold how our Great American Novelist works magical realism in with his social commentary, all the while retaining his personal probity:

It was autumn, and Purity was feeling that unambiguous melancholy at the base of her neck. Yes, she knew of its heritage: how her Yale professor father had sired three daughters with a predisposition to be down-at-the-mouth. But what none of the Smerthson family knew, including, for the moment, she herself, was that Purity possessed a sort of superpower: the power of complete transcendence over mood.

Purity had, as it so happened, been recently embroiled in the Enron scam, this being the autumn of 2001. She and her notably effeminate husband, a slight-of-build, begrudging young tech-head, had both been shown the door the day previous and currently sat at a breakfast table of marmalade jam and toast.
“Purity,” said her husband, Egwitt, while squinting in her general direction, “but why do have that simpleton’s simpering look of elation all over your face?”
“Because…,” and Purity paused. She didn’t know it, but was on the precipice of discovering her true ability and strength. Egwitt was displeased by what he heard next: “I’m happy because Enron was America, dear, and America is rotten through. We are all complicit in an unjust war; our art is no more than a mass commodity; our politicians lie and do it badly and still, as a people, we do not care. Why, Egwitt,” she said, redoubling her napkin, “we don’t even know what truth is anymore. And you’re as much America as Enron is.”



One thought on “An Extract from the First Chapter of Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’

  1. Pingback: An Extract from the First Chapter of Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’ | D.L. Roberts Dwells

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