Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My review of Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom"

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What does it mean to be a person in the "land of the free" when each and every one of us are bound by the relationships we find ourselves in, regardless of whether or not we want to be in them? What does it mean to be "free" in a world that, despite or because of, our global connectedness to whatever abstract or concrete degree that we can see and feel it, doesn't allow us to be truly alone to experience utter freedom? Can we find some redemption and solace in knowing that just as we are free to make mistakes, we are equally free to correct them? These types of questions were popping in my mind as I read "Freedom." Franzen attempts to put into a novel a definitive account of not only one family's saga and but also the national generational sensibilities that seeped throughout the U.S. of the 2000s. He succeeds in weaving together the thoughts and actions of his characters with objective and acute observations about them in a way reminiscent of voice-overs in nature documentaries. Patty's early life in the beginning of "Freedom" was a slog to get through and it was jarring initially to read her memoirs in the third person, but it laid the foundation for her dealings with her family and friends later on. Reading the travails of the Berglunds in "Freedom" felt as messy, fascinating, and complicated as hearing the latest life news from a close friend or family member.

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Life has been busy. This place needs a new coat and some freshness in it, which I will work on.

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