Hundeschlitten's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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's review
Oct 10, 2010

liked it

If nothing else, "Freedom" is a page-turner. And, unlike so many contemporary novelists, Franzen really seems to care about his characters. And I got to care about them, too.

The downside is that, while I grew to care about the characters in this novel, I didn't really like them. In fact, most of the guys, in particular, were pretty insufferable. The only exception was Patty, the female lead, who is definitely the soul of the novel.

Also, the plot twists and the soap opera elements of this book are pretty boilerplate. And the larger themes, such as what constitutes freedom in our society, and man's imposition on nature, were handled on the level you'd expect at a coffee klatch in the local library.

It reminds me of a (slightly) more erudite version of "The Bridges of Madison County," another novel based primarily in the Midwest that gained a massive readership. And I find it funny how each writer used popular brands to reach out to their respective readers. In the case of "Madison County", it was Budweiser. The two lovers seemed to always be drinking a bottle of Bud. In "Freedom", it is generic Japanese or Korean cars. For instance, the reader is first given a hint that Patty has come over to Walter's side as a defender of the earth when she arrives at his house driving a Hyundai, unlike all those vapid suburbanites across the lake driving their domestic autos. Well, has Franzen ever driven around the suburbs? The only people who still drive domestic cars are Mexicans and the elderly. But Franzen uses this branding to create an easy, if false, means for the typical reader to identify with his subjects. I guess that's how you write about at least mildly uncomfortable subjects and still produce a hit.

In summary, even though large stetches of it were fairly annoying, I kind of liked "Freedom". And I really liked that it features three of my favorite things: basketball, 80's underground rock, and the forests of northern Minnesota.
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05/02 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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RandomAnthony How long is this fucker? I read and liked The Correcitons but this one sounds similar. Good work, sir.

Hundeschlitten Thanks Tony. And it's 562 pages from stem to stern, but a fairly quick read. In fact, I think either you or Melissa could finish it in a day or two (or about a week in plodding James time).

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