After our move from New York City to Ludington when I was pregnant I read quite frequently. During that time, I read Franzen’s famed novel The Corrections which I enjoyed, but it left me… for lack of a better word.. sad. He’s an incredible writer. I would go back and re-read paragraphs and pages I was awestruck by this guy’s talent. After all the hype including his Time Magazine cover feature as I was eager to read his latest production, Freedom.

I started Freedom in December, read half of it, and then didn’t return to it until last week. As I read this novel, I kept wondering, “Is this how Franzan envisions people to be in real life?” While the critically acclaimed novel boasts the extreme depth in character construction , I have to agree with many of the non-press reviews, that the characters aren’t believable. No. I take that back. I don’t mean it. (What am I trying to say here…..)  It’s not that the characters are unbelievable, but more so their relationships to one another were all so removed. Husband-Wife, Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, Sister-Brother, Lover-Lover… Their connection thin, paper dolls holding hands in a row. But maybe that was Franzen’s intention. I’m no professional literary critic, so I dunno.

Other than that, I really liked reading this book. It’s one of those books I stayed up late to read even though the baby is cutting 4 teeth, and she’s bound to wake up any minute screaming. But it was worth the sleep deprivation.  I think Franzen brings to light a great many social issues that need to be discussed. I also think most people can relate to at least one situation or one character’s psychology. I know I did.

Review from the Ludington Library:

Favorite passage:  “Her eyes weren’t blinking. There was still something almost dead in them, something very far away. She seemed to be seeing all the way through to the back of him and beyond, out into the cold space of the future in which they would both soon be dead, out into the nothingness that Lalitha and his mother and his father had already passed into, and yet she was looking straight into his eyes, and he could feel her getting warmer by the minute. And so he stopped looking at her eyes and started looking into them, returning their look before it was too late, before this connection between life and what came after life was lost, and let her see all the vileness inside him, all the hatreds of two thousand solitary nights, while the two of them were still with the void in which the sum of everything they’d ever said or done, every pain they’d inflicted, every joy they’d shared, would weigh less than the smallest feather on the wind.”

Next up: How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish

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