Posted by: Paul | October 4, 2010

Freedom – the ‘Corrections’ version

This is Jonathan Franzen. He has a new book out. His previous novel, ‘The Corrections’, is one of my all-time favourite books – hard going in places but gripping and hilariously funny. Such well drawn, realistic and convincing characters, and a pitch-perfect depiction of dysfunctional family life – in America especially, but equally applicable elsewhere.

It’s taken Franzen almost ten years to come up with the follow-up but, like Downton Abbey and Julian Fellowes, if it’s anything like as good as his previous work it will be worth the wait. However, during a reading on Radio 4 last week, Franzen himself got a bit of a shock.

It turns out that the finished copy he was reading an extract from was an earlier draft, which included not just the usual uncorrected typos and so on, but stylistic and characterisation differences. This prompted him to tell an event at the South Bank Centre, ‘Don’t buy the book!’

Unbelievably, the entire UK print run of 80,000 copies – of which 8000 were sold in the first few days of release – is to be recalled and pulped, before being replaced with a new edition later this week. My advice on the subject is: Instant Collectors Item!

Obviously with a novel like this you want to read the final version, the author’s true vision. But what an opportunity to nab a piece of publishing history. I’m going into town tomorrow to try to track down a copy before the shops send them all back! It will sit on my bookshelf next to the copy of Harry Potter 6 which has the wrong number of exam results for Hermione in it. Though there’s quite a few more of those about, as you might expect 😉

I heard the clip on the radio and wish I could find a link to post, Franzen was clearly horrified. It’s not clear exactly what happened yet – the publisher says typesetting errors, and the author says an earlier draft was opened by mistake. We’ll probably never know, but in the light of the previous novel’s title, and the amount of expectation heaped on the new, the literary sections of the broadsheets are having a field day with the headlines!

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