If an award were given for Best Simpsons Cameo by a Great American Author, the prize would indisputably go to Thomas Pynchon, whose cartoon doppelganger remained anonymous by wearing a bag over his head. The runner-up, however, just might be Jonathan Franzen. This acclaimed postmodern writer had the good sense to poke fun at literary pretentiousness -- and gain lots of pop-culture cred in the process. But while cartoon-Franzen strutted around a writers conference and got in a brawl with (real-life chum) Michael Chabon, the author himself is scholarly and industrious. Franzen, who was raised in Webster Groves and often writes about the ennui of Midwestern life, returns to town this evening. At 7 p.m. at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters branch (1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Frontenac), Franzen discusses and signs his newest book, a memoir called The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History. This free event is presented by the St. Louis County Library Foundation. For more information visit www.slcl.org or call 314-994-3300. Franz-oooohn!
Fri., Sept. 14