Allisobro, April 20, 2013 (view all comments by Allisobro)
I've learned that reading Franzen is not something you should be doing if you're looking for an uplifting, positive tale where you feel like rooting for the main characters. With that said, it is an enjoyable read. More a realistic look at people, their quirks and imperfections than a feel-good story to make you smile. I consider it a credit to the author when you can feel like you know a character and feel a connection to them, but at the same time, really really dislike them. So hats off to Franzen, thank you for telling a real human story.
Lindel Kincaid, August 28, 2012 (view all comments by Lindel Kincaid)
Franzen captures the complex lives of a relatively average suburban American family. Each character is developed so fully that while the audience comes to intimately understand all of his or her most repulsive shortcomings, one can't help but identify with each of them. A beautiful book with poignant dialogue and intricate relationships, Franzen explores the depths of love, purpose, intimacy, happiness, and liberty. An astounding accomplishment, recommended to anyone who is human.
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Paul Sturgis, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Paul Sturgis)
Franzen's book, "Freedom", captures my generation's anxiety, hopefulness, disillusionment, shallowness, idealism, self-absorption and myriad other contradictory traits with great storytelling skill and with seemingly effortless writing skill. This book will be read and debated for generations. It's one of the twenty best novels that I have read in my fifty-nine years, and in centuries to come, will rank with the works of Dickens and Twain in giving a vivid representation of a culture and an era.
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Mcan, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Mcan)
I can't decide if I like this better than The Corrections, but Franzen has once again produced a gem that by size is intimidating but by all accounts is brilliant. Any person can find some way to relate to this book, as it runs the gamut of human experiences and is highly relevant to our times.
In his new novel, Jonathan Franzen surpasses the achievements of his National Book Award-winner, The Corrections. Freedom examines every major theme in American life — politics, class, work, culture, and sex, to name a few — through the lens of one stubborn, fascinating, wholly believable family. The best novel yet this year.
by Jill Owens
In Freedom, Jonathan Franzen bulldozes through the façade of the progressive, modern American family. His characters are intelligent, analytical, selfish, needy, and full of regret. They come off as unlikable, but are instead complex, realistic people choking on their freedom; each earns our sympathy as they actively poison themselves and the ones they love. Franzen's writing is intimately elaborate, offers astute observations, and, in its entirety, amounts to a tremendous achievement clouded in gloom, but ultimately shining with hope.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Nine years after winning the National Book Award, Franzen's The Corrections consistently appears on 'Best of the Decade' lists and continues to enjoy a popularity that borders on the epochal, so much so that the first question facing Franzen's feverishly awaited follow-up is whether it can find its own voice in its predecessor's shadow. In short: yes, it does, and in a big way. Readers will recognize the strains of suburban tragedy afflicting St. Paul, Minn.'s Walter and Patty Berglund, once-gleaming gentrifiers now marred in the eyes of the community by Patty's increasingly erratic war on the right-wing neighbors with whom her eerily independent and sexually precocious teenage son, Joey, is besot, and, later, 'greener than Greenpeace' Walter's well-publicized dealings with the coal industry's efforts to demolish a West Virginia mountaintop. The surprise is that the Berglunds' fall is outlined almost entirely in the novel's first 30 pages, freeing Franzen to delve into Patty's affluent East Coast girlhood, her sexual assault at the hands of a well-connected senior, doomed career as a college basketball star, and the long-running love triangle between Patty, Walter, and Walter's best friend, the budding rock star Richard Katz. By 2004, these combustible elements give rise to a host of modern predicaments: Richard, after a brief peak, is now washed up, living in Jersey City, laboring as a deck builder for Tribeca yuppies, and still eyeing Patty. The ever-scheming Joey gets in over his head with psychotically dedicated high school sweetheart and as a sub-subcontractor in the re-building of postinvasion Iraq. Walter's many moral compromises, which have grown to include shady dealings with Bush-Cheney cronies (not to mention the carnal intentions of his assistant, Lalitha), are taxing him to the breaking point. Patty, meanwhile, has descended into a morass of depression and self-loathing, and is considering breast augmentation when not working on her therapist-recommended autobiography. Franzen pits his excavation of the cracks in the nuclear family's facade against a backdrop of all-American faults and fissures, but where the book stands apart is that, no longer content merely to record the breakdown, Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving at — incredibly — genuine hope. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"Passionately imagined, psychologically exacting, and shrewdly satirical, Franzen's spiraling epic exposes the toxic ironies embedded in American middle-class life and reveals just how destructive our muddled notions of entitlement and freedom are and how obliviously we squander life and love."
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"Jonathan Franzen's galvanic new novel...showcases his impressive literary toolkit — every essential storytelling skill, plus plenty of bells and whistles — and his ability to throw open a big, Updikean picture window on American middle-class life....Mr. Franzen has written his most deeply felt novel yet — a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times."
"Freedom... [is] making a claim for shelf space among the kind of books that the big dogs used to write. The kind they called important. The kind they called greats."
by Library Journal,
"As in his National Book Award winner, The Corrections, Franzen reveals a penchant for smart, deceptively simple, and culturally astute writing. Highly recommended."
From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections comes a darkly comedic novel about family. Franzen's intensely realized characters struggle to learn how to live in an ever-confusing world — one with the temptations and burdens of liberty, the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, and the heavy weight of empire.
#1 National Bestseller
Winner of the John Gardner Fiction Award
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
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 Walter and Patty Berglund 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.
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