Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

About the book: In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

First Line: If Patty weren't an atheist, she would thank the good Lord for school athletic programs because they basically saved her life and gave her a chance to realize herself as a person.
My thoughts: I needed a book for the Oprah Book Club portion of my personal challenge. After reading the blurbs for several of them I chose Freedom. They were glowing, telling how absolutely wonderful this book was. I hate to be critical of a book....I am not a writer and I can only imagine the work that goes into writing one, especially one as long as this one. The writing was great but the story was b.o.r.i.n.g. It droned on and on about the lives of characters who were never fleshed out. Way too many details were given about portions of their lives, especially the sections on sex. Yuck. I especially did not understand Walter, one of the main characters, who went from being patient and kind to being a hot head. He was an environmentalist who signed off on a strip mining venture with the understanding that, years from now, it would be a reserve for one species of bird.  ??????? It seemed quite preachy and repetitive to me on subjects such as the environment, social issues, sex, and politics.

The second half was better than the first, the story moved on along and got more interesting. By the end the characters had been through hell, long excruciating hell, but came out the other end with some hope.

Rating: C

Quote: "Each new thing he encountered in life impelled him in a direction that fully convinced him of its rightness, but then the next new thing loomed up and impelled him in the opposite direction, which also felt right. There was no controlling narrative: he seemed to himself a purely reactive pinball in a game whose only object was to stay alive for staying alive's sake." 

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