I finally read the Time cover story on Jonathan Franzen. I may be the only person left in the Western world who hasn’t read The Corrections (though it’s on my list), but the part that stood out for me was a small picture of his spartan desk and a description of his workspace:
“Franzen works in a rented office that he has stripped of all distractions. He uses a heavy, obsolete Dell laptop from which he was scoured any trace of hearts and solitaire, down to the level of the operating system. Because Franzen believes you can’t write serious fiction on a computer that’s connected to the Internet, he not only removed the Dell’s wireless card but also permanently blocked its Ethernet port. ‘What you have to do,’ he explains, ‘is you plug in an Ethernet cable with superglue, and then you saw off the little head of it.’”
Of course, I like that the next line puts it all in perspective:
“In spite of all these precautions, Franzen got stuck.”
My laptop is going on five years old now, and it’s about time to replace it. I may not go so far as the superglue and the sawed-off Ethernet cable, but I may look into how hard disconnecting the wireless card is.