Review: Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom: A Novel”

by writereaderly

First things first: this doesn’t compare to The Corrections. That positively bristled with vicious brilliance. This, however, lacked any such attractions: it’s a mega (562pp), middle-of-the-road novel. There are four main characters who are dully warped and reprehensible, and, worst of all, *uninteresting* (but phew, they’re slightly better people by the novel’s end). Franzen knows how to write – not a line of this is a “clanger”, as one friend terms it – but I never really cared about his boring characters or the two-event plot or the 500pp wrestle on the theme of “who do you really love and how do you know”? The title made a spate of appearances between page 250 and 350, as though the author got a reminder that he needed some sort of theme to give universality to his Twin Cities/New York tale. One can imagine the readers’ group supplement, featuring astute questions such as “Was ‘freedom’ really at the heart of this novel? Do you think Jonathan Franzen approves of freedom? Why was that bird on the cover?” A fat and banal book. I remain, yours truly, Unenthused.

Where it came from: KT’s Housesat Bookshelf
Time & manner of reading: Bed-nights and days and a bath, but really just cos I wanted to finish the damn thing
Where it went to: Back home
Reminds me of: For no reason I can pinpoint, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History
Who I’d recommend it to: Sneh. Not excited enough to recommend.
Also reading: The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene; Gertrude by Hermann Hesse; The Plumed Serpent by D.H. Lawrence; The Reivers by William Faulkner; Seven Poor Men of Sydney by Christina Stead