Purity in Oakland
(In the spirit of the youtube sharing community, here is a supercut of Jonathan Franzen sentences in Purity that include the word “Oakland.”)
Some of her friends in Oakland also had problematic parents, but they still managed to speak to them daily without undue weirdnesses transpiring, because even the most problematic of them had resources that consisted of more than just their single offspring. I use the word spies loosely, of course, though perhaps not entirely inappropriately, given the fact that there are some thirty-five members of the Oakland Nuclear Disarmament Study Group, of which Pip and Stephen are by no means the least dispensable, and yet the house that the Germans have chosen to favor with their all too typically German earnestness and nosiness, for nearly a week now, is ours.
Annagret would dump her boyfriend and move to Oakland and take Stephen and drive Pip out of the house. She watched the people lining up for pastries and coffee drinks, nice racially diverse Oakland people freshly showered and able to afford a daily bought breakfast. Yours, Pip Tyler, Oakland, California, USA
The Oakland bus station was a mile-and-a-half walk from her friend Samantha’s apartment. Pip explained that she had friends in the Oakland nuclear-disarmament community who had hacker friends with access to object-recognition software and (illegally) to the inner workings of Facebook’s content delivery network. She’d also been living in serious squalor in Oakland, surrounded by dirty anarchists, and her pictures of Cody Flayner’s barbecue had been obtained by lawless hacking. Come Friday night, though, she plunked herself down on a stool in the kitchen, let Tom shake her one of his perfect Manhattans, chopped garlic for Leila, and opened up with funny tales of squatter life in Oakland.
Taken together, the animals reminded Pip that she was an animal herself; the multitude of shames she’d left behind in Oakland seemed of smaller consequence at Los Volcanes. In little more than two weeks, she’d managed to replicate her social situation in Oakland.
If you try to talk about it anyway, some angry young woman in Oakland, California, will accuse you of self-pity. To have her revenge on the indifferent men she’d left behind in Oakland. It reminded her of something; of Stephen crying on their front porch in Oakland. What had ruined things in Oakland was her lust for Stephen, her anger at an older man. It couldn’t possibly be a real one, but it looked exactly like the real ones Pip had seen in presentations at her study group in Oakland.
“I met this German woman in Oakland,” she said. While he waited to hear from her in Oakland, he took honest stock of himself and saw how much ground he’d lost in his battle with the Killer. On better days it spread across the bay and took over Oakland street by street, a thing you saw coming, a change you watched happening to you, a season on the move. Pip knew she should call her mother and tell her she was back in Oakland. Pip was living in her old house in Oakland and working at Peet’s, end of story. “It’s quite the schlep from Oakland.” Colleen apologized to Pip for making her come all the way to Bernal Heights; the next time they met, which she hoped would be soon, Colleen would come to Oakland; so great to see Pip again; really liked the new haircut . . .
“I’ve been living in Oakland, California. If I agree to work on it, will you buy this house in Oakland?” It was the driest and least foggy season of the year in Oakland, but she minded it less now that it meant consistently ideal tennis conditions. Rain in Oakland was ordinary, seldom very heavy, always liable to yield to clear sky between the chaotic tentacles of Pacific storm cloud.