Ashley Hoopes's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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** spoiler alert ** Is it just because I had such high expectations, after reading The Corrections, that I was disappointed? On the cover of Time, on Oprah, written up in every publication, etc. I mean, how could it be anything but fantastic? It will certainly lead to interesting conversations, which may be just as important as the quality of writing. The author takes a bigger stand in this book. More raunchy, more political. You can forgive him that because he does stay true to his craft and create characters that are detailed in a painstaking way. So much so, that you tend to tire of the details after a long while. Maybe that the main character was so unlovable (to me) for nine tenths of this book, had something to do with my feelings about it. Maybe that it hits closer to home in examining personal character flaws was another reason for discomfort. The family is no less dysfunctional, and at the same time thoroughly normal, than his family from The Corrections. The children are no less damaged. Although the minor characters did seem to be a tad more flat than those in The Corrections. The mother's family could have been examined more and made for a more interesting back story. The stalker-like friend that dominates a large part of the begining of the book was a big letdown for me. It did establish that the main character, Patty, did enjoy being idolized and adored. To see her fall for Richard, seemed unbelievable. That Walter would waste his time and energy on her, also seemed like a stretch...to have a trophy wife? Was she just an idealized version of what he thought the ideal woman was? Although, then he kept on loving her, even though she was as deep and dimensional as a spot of paint on the wall. Their reunion was one that semi-redeemed the book, although it left me unsatisfied. I mean detailed description of their son's phone sex episodes but no details about a practical suicide that turns in to hot lustful lovemaking that reunites a jilted set of lovers that were destined to be together? Throw me a bone. I don't pay the big bucks to dream this stuff up in MY head..that's YOUR job. The data that Franzen weaves throughout the book is as impressive as it is depressive. His commentary on global consumption does leave you feeling guilty as a consuming human on the planet, every time you put the book down...not so much of a happy feel-good book as one might like. A good book, to be sure. Excellent writing style, thought provoking to be sure- just slightly disappointed after reading The Corrections and hoping for a follow up that warranted the seven plus years it took to write.
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