Monday, September 27, 2010

Fiction: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Today in January Magazine’s fiction section, January editor Linda L. Richards reviews the much ballyhooed Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Says Richards:
Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom begins with a deceptively narrow focus. The life of a single family -- the Berglunds of St. Paul, Minnsesota -- viewed from a distance. The neighborhood they choose. The house they buy and love. The children they grow in the house and how all four Berglunds fit into the neighborhood.

When the topic -- the vision -- seems nearly exhausted, the field narrows still further. Now we see things from Patty Berglund’s view. But we go back still further and see things in sharp relief and great detail. Her childhood -- the things that shaped her. Her college days. The athletics that gave her life meaning. The female stalker who unexpectedly provided her life with the form it will ultimately take. Her distant love of a moody musician. Her actual love of his roommate, Walter Berglund, and the life the couple eventually forge together. In a neighborhood. In a house.

And here, perhaps one third into
Freedom, it seems as though it will all either drone on endlessly or all begin again. At this point, Freedom seems to be teetering towards tedious. And then it goes somewhere else.
The full review is here.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Shelley said...

Although as a writer I believe in letting the "real world" into the novel, still I have to refer people to a thought-provoking review of this book in The Atlantic.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 9:32:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

You found it "thought-provoking"? "Gently scathing" was more what I came away with. They did not like the book. At all.

I did not expect to like Freedom. Let me be honest: I didn't even want to like it. But, despite my expectations and desires, it swept me away in so many ways. It's a fantastic book. Have you read it?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 10:29:00 AM PDT  

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