'Freedom' was on my list of twelve books from my to-read list I've been avoiding reading that I challenged myself to read this year. I've heard and re...more'Freedom' was on my list of twelve books from my to-read list I've been avoiding reading that I challenged myself to read this year. I've heard and read things about Jonathan Franzen that put me off a little - his disdain of technology, his disdain of Oprah's book club... it just seems like every time I hear about him in the news, he's proclaiming his disdain of something. Nevertheless, I'd heard good things about his writing, and don't believe in equating an author's work with his public persona.
Unfortunately, I was either unable to separate the two this time, or Franzen's attitude pervades his work. I expect it was both. The story centers around a disaffected upper middle class couple, Walter and Patty, as well as their son Joey and Walter's best friend Richard, both of whom have lasting impacts on their marriage. None of the characters are particularly likable, although they have some redeeming qualities, and they are, for the most part, miserable. There is a loose plot, but it's far from the focus of the book, leaving the writing and the characters to pull the weight. Unfortunately, I've never been much for reading about the plight of upper middle class dissatisfied with their existence. Add to that large portions of the book that seem more like they belong in a textbook (or a sermon?) than in a novel, and the result is something just not made for me. (less)