Monday, November 29, 2010

Freedom (by Jonathan Franzen)

Ian gave me some great advice when beginning this book: don't think about all the arguments about whether Franzen is overrated or the Greatest Writer Ever, or whether the book is overpraised or underpraised or whatever. Just enjoy it as a page-turning novel. And I did: I started it yesterday and finished it yesterday, all 500+ pages, and it was a lovely way to spend the day.

(Part of the reason for my book binge is that I haven't read books in a while due to months of constant low-grade nausea making it impossible to concentrate; so now I'm making up for lost time.)

So, as a page-turner, I really enjoyed it. I don't think it's a particularly wondrous writing achievement, and here's one reason: there's a whole section that's supposed to be "written" by one of the characters, but it's the exact same writing style as the third-person narrator who narrates the rest of the novel. I mean, sorry Franzen, but David Mitchell would never! Also, I think he tries a little too hard to hammer the theme of "freedom," having multiple characters go on and on about how they're free or not free or what they think of freedom. Some thought-provoking passages, but on the whole, I think he's better when he's not trying so transparently to be profound.

I am a Corrections fan, and I'm a Franzen fan. It was a really fun read: not a masterpiece.


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