Jonathan Franzen

Kids today! What do they want, besides their Twitters and their Snapchats and their handsome Vine stars? Author Jonathan Franzen came upon a novel (see what we did there) idea for a way to understand the youth of America: He decided to adopt an Iraqi war orphan.

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That makes no sense, you may be thinking. Let Mr. Franzen explain: "“One of the things that had put me in mind of adoption was a sense of alienation from the younger generation. They seemed politically not the way they should be as young people. I thought people were supposed to be idealistic and angry. And they seemed kind of cynical and not very angry," he said in an interview with the Guardian.

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Luckily for him, and presumably the poor war orphan this would have affected, Franzen's editor at theNew Yorkertalked him out of it, and suggested speaking to some recent college grads as a way of understanding young people instead. Even Franzen admits "it was insane," and said the whole idea "lasted maybe six weeks." Sure, that's about how long adopting a child lasts, so that seems right.

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