Saturday, May 07, 2011

'Freedom' ponders functional dysfunction, really...

SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA, USA - The novel Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, had been on my list to read since it first came out in 2010.

It was one of those books I picked up in Costco three times, each time reading a few more pages before deciding I just couldn't part with the $25+ dollars Costco wanted.
Jonathan Franzen

Still, the lives of the family in the book - Walter and Patty - and children Joey and Jessica - had me fascinated from the first few pages. There's love, hate, a touch of violence and enough familial intrigue and interplay to give almost anyone gas, gasps, and very occasionally a guffaw.

Very occasionally.

It is not a book for everyone, even though the family themes and woes and joys are nearly universal.

The author's narrative voice probably drives some readers to distraction. (The librarian in Watkins Glen where I checked out the book told me she tried to read it three times and each time gave up). And it spans many years, with significant flashbacks, a device some people find maddening. It does work in this book, though.

I found that I could not wait to pick it up, and so I read it in just over a week, this in between regular life, writing assignments and adjusting to life here in upstate New York.

So why is the dateline on this review Minnesota? Well, life in that state figures prominently, as does the little blue bird on the cover.

But to find out about either, you will have to read it, or find a reviewer who doesn't mind spoiling a story.

Recommended summer reading, if that list isn't already filled.

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