I’ve been wrestling for a while with this post. I had about two paragraphs written but realized they were nothing but plot recaps and scrapped the whole thing. A gentleman who reads this blog visited the store yesterday. His only question was what did I think of Freedom? After all, I did finish it a while ago.
Like Franzen himself, Freedom is polarizing. Great American novelist or overrated hack? Great American novel, or seriously grating
I’m usually a cynic about that kind of praise, but I think Franzen
isn’t overrated, or at least not by much. Freedom is truly great.
Saying I loved it doesn’t really express how I felt about it, though.
It’s a little more complicated than that.
I certainly didn’t love all of the characters–Walter with his grating niceness, self absorbed Patty, their son Joey who I mainly wanted to punch, and the whiny daughter who isn’t as important to the story for some reason. Yet grew affectionate about them and was happy in the end with the lives Franzen created for them. With Franzen you always spend a lot of time frustrated with his characters, but it pays off.
Freedom is a great book. I’m betting that it will become a classic, at least I hope it does. Ignore all the stuff being said about the author. Just read the book for what it is, a novel about the absurdities of modern American life. Hopefully you like it as much as I did.