“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom came to my attention when a co-worker, hoping for collegial intellectual discussion, announced a discussion of this just published novel.

The invitation to a potluck dinner and book discussion was welcome indeed, but I started reading the book and, oops, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t imagine being anything but depressed if I invested another five or six hours and finished it. So I didn’t… nor did I attend the discussion.

My husband tried to read “Freedom”. His reaction was that it was like Garrison Keillor but mean-spirited. The author doesn’t like the his characters.

Controversies have emerged. Why, when a man writes about relationship and families, is it a profound big deal, but if a woman does the same, it’s “chick lit”? Hmm… And why did the male author decide to write from the female point of view? Why not tell the story as experienced by one of the other two main (male) characters?

What have we got here? Our heroine is “bad”, our hero naive, and the third party to this distressed love triangle is “damaged” but creative.

This reminded me of The World According to Garp. Everyone is badly flawed, but the punishments befalling them are inordinate – death (in Garp), humiliation, estrangement… Also like Madame Bovary. Did she really deserve such a horrible death?

I put this book down half way through, and didn’t finish it.

(I wrote this in September of 2010.)


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