Brian's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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Aug 05, 2011

it was amazing

Jonathan Franzen has been declared as nothing less than modern Messiah of contemporary fiction, or at least Time magazine and half a dozen "best books of 2010" would have us believe this. So I decided to read Freedom, which probably isn't as accurate as I fulfilled the eventual self expectation that I would read it... cause well, something this hyped can't be missed, right? Now, part of me, the cynical, it's easy to tear down me (in other words, music critic Brian) didn't really want to like this book that much. I mean I read The Corrections on the recommendation of a friend, and found it funny in places but overall fairly... meh. (Didn't connect to the chracters, found the storyline uneven and difficult to follow in places, etc.) Freedom for me was a completely different story, but for very plebian reasons when I think about it.

First, it is a really easy to follow book. I don't know why, maybe due to the connection to DFW, but I expected this book to be complicated, a virtual tour-de-force of modern lit: copious, emblematic and sardonic. The thing that struck me is the story is very easy to follow, predominately driven by a handful of characters who are flawed, and surprisingly interesting. Second, and this point I stole from my friend Kevin Walsh, it's a book that's really set in today. Not 10 years ago, or 15 years in the future, but it is really the perfect book for 2010(ish). Third it's really funny, and touching, and sad and ridiculous, all in equal measure. I do find it strange the book was hyped as much as it is. Maybe that says something about the state of modern fiction that one has to search pretty far and wide to find an accessible, well written story with compelling charaters that keeps the reader engaged.

Normally I would at least try to provide some high level plot, or some description of a character, but I think in this case I'll just say, I really enjoyed it. If your just looking for a well written, straight forward story, this is a good place to start, hype or not.
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