Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Book Report: Freedom by
Book #1 for 2011 was Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
Heralded as the book of the century, featured on the cover of Time magazine, picked by Oprah for her own book club, the darling of all sorts of NPR discussions, lists and interviews, the hype surrounding a fiction novel was overwhelming. I was very excited to read this book and was more than thrilled when the book club I'm in picked this to start the year with.
It's hard to pinpoint what exactly it is about the story and characters that is so captivating. Perhaps seeing warning signs of bad decisions and consequences long before the characters care about or even recognize them gives the reader an instant stake in rooting for the best for everyone involved. The characters are all, to a one, so completely unloveable and yet immensely sympathetic. The relationships, and I do mean every relationship in the book, are entirely inappropriate and yet the reader finds themselves rooting for a resolution, hoping that these pitiful creatures will find absolution and resolution in the end, the same way we're all hoping for the same thing in our own lives.
Freedom is a meandering read. Don't be turned off by the first chapter. You're introduced to about 40 different families and couples. Only the next door neighbors remain players in the book. Walter's portion of the story is intensely boring. It's worth the struggle to get through his rantings about obscure birds and zero-population growth.
In my mind the only person who can play Richard when the inevitable movie comes out is Judd Nelson.
Ultimately I found this an engrossing read, powerfully written, current-event-topical and not too preachy.
I recommend it highly!