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Jonathan Franzen; a Remote Island in the South Pacific
Franzen is an avid bird-watcher. He's written about it extensively, both in non-fiction and in his novel Freedom. But perhaps the farthest he (or any other human?) has traveled in pursuit of an elusive avian species is the almost unreachable island off the coast of Chile that he wrote about in a New Yorker essay titled "Farther Away." The whole essay (not behind the paywall!!!) is a beautiful account not only of the pleasures and torments of bird-watching, but also of how Franzen is dealing with the loss of his close friend, David Foster Wallace. The island, which is actually named "Masafuera" (which means "farther away"), is also an opportunity for Franzen to read Robinson Crusoe again and contemplate the idea of survival and how it pertains in the sense of Crusoe and of how it pertained to someone like Wallace, and also to Franzen himself. It is one of the best essays I know of which addresses one of the main reasons to want an escape: boredom. And not just a little bit of boredom, but the kind of existential boredom that might have contributed to Wallace's suicide, the kind that leads people who live in the most comfortable and luxurious era ever known to man to just stay at home and remain sedentary instead of flying away and exploring new things, aloft on a breeze, just like one of Franzen's birds. Anyway, read this. It's amazing.