Patrick O'Neil's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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's review
Nov 09, 2010

really liked it

When my sister gave me her copy of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom I asked her what she thought of it, whether she liked it, and was it worth reading. She said, "You have to read it to find out what happens." Which I thought was kind of a weird answer. That is until I started Freedom and realized I was engrossed and reading to get to the end to see what happens. And if you think about it, that's really what books should do. After all I've jettisoned many a book, not even caring what was going to happen, because what was and had been happening didn't mean shit and I'd totally lost interest in the story or the characters. And usually I'm not so picky questioning my sister on whether a book she just read is any good, as I almost always respect her opinion and agree with her taste. Yet with all the hype: Franzen adorning the cover of Time, and Oprah "forgiving" his past snubbing and book clubbing his book, and his being dubbed "the Great American Novelist." One has to wonder what the fuck? Not that I'm opposed to an author on the cover of Time, or Oprah having a book club, or anything that gets America thinking about reading – because sadly, America doesn't read. I admire anyone that makes reading cool and can generate the masses' interest. I currently teach English composition at a community college – none of my students read books. Well, none of my students straight out of high school read books. They consider a text message to be literature. And yeah, I know, that last sentence sounded eerily like an old fart bemoaning the next generation – and it was. We're witnessing the dumbing of the world's populace and if all the hype around Franzen can get a few more people reading, then I'm all for it.
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05/13/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Patrick,

Your comment about the sad state of reading in the country is so painfully true. I'm for anything that can get the current generation of kids, dumbed-down by uncaring "teachers," to read.

I applaud your guts--teaching English composition in a community college. I taught securities licensing crash courses to "adults" for years, and was appalled at the lack of literacy and "numeracy."

message 2: by Angie (new)

Angie That was very heartfelt Patrick and I can only say 'here, here' to you in your sentiment: wanting to get the kids reading (something one cannot enforce but would dearly love everyone to discover the absolute joys of). Sometimes the hype can be too much in a book as lauded this and there has been some mention in the press here in the UK about this one. Interestingly I still don't know too much about the story! I still feel odd visiting a house with no books in it. It's unnatural and alien to me. Keep up the great work.

Patrick O'Neil Thanks to you both for your comments. Of course I just noticed and fixed a typo in my review - always good to yammer on about the demise of reading and lowered education with errors in the text - Ha!

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