J.T. Dutton's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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Sep 16, 10

Read on September 14, 2010

I didn't know the story about the Corrections, the slight to Oprah or the National Book Award business. Maybe I was asleep that year or reading something long by Charles Dickens. I did finally read the novel though when my husband, Dr. Midwestern Literature bought home a copy. Wow, I remember thinking as I finished. Wow.
I read the first chapter of Freedom in the New Yorker last year and I talked about it, recommended it, got into a huge discussion with Jeff about the characters.
We, sadly, look a little like Walter and Patty Bergland. I'm full of misplaced East Coast entitlement. Jeff is a nice but easily road raged intellectual from Minnesota. We live in a pretty Victorian house in a suburban place with our two pretty kids--yup, a boy and I girl. I knew when I bought my copy of Freedom at Borders instead of the Indy bookstore I should have shopped at, I was risking seeing my own insanity, my own dull smallness in an unflattering mirror.
Toward the end of the novel, I hated the whole story. Seriously. What a downer all the self-interest and human foible coming between two people who needed each other. I kept thinking screw you Mr. Downer Franzen.
Then this evening, I finished the book and OK, I sort of managed to enjoy two happy endings, the one Jeff and I experienced being together despite the fragility of our world, and the one Franzen forged for the Berglands, who do finally, figure a few basic things about each other out.
Freedom is worth the pain and suffering. That's all I'm saying.
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