Hardcover ´ Freedom PDF/EPUB µ

Freedom[Read] ➲ Freedom By Jonathan Franzen – Varanus.us Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St Paul the gentrifiers, the hands on parents, the avant garde of the Whole Foods generation Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St Paul the gentrifiers, the hands on parents, the avant garde of the Whole Foods generation Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter s dreams Together with Walter environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man she was doing her small part to build a better worldBut now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal What exactly is Richard Katz outr rocker and Walter s college best friend and rival still doing in the picture Most of all, what has happened to Patty Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become a very different kind of neighbor, an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street s attentive eyes In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom s characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time jacket.

Hardcover  ´ Freedom PDF/EPUB µ
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  • Hardcover
  • 562 pages
  • Freedom
  • Jonathan Franzen
  • English
  • 27 January 2019
  • 0312600844

    10 thoughts on “Hardcover ´ Freedom PDF/EPUB µ

    Have Kindle books jacket."/>
  1. says:

    I read Freedom the week before Christmas What was I thinking Did I want a bleak, almost sullen, portrayal of America in the new century And not a complete one, either, but limited to privileged white people Why didn t I just sit on the couch, get drunk, and watch Salt and Easy A Ok, I did that, too, but my kids were off of school and apparently believe they should get to watch television as well, so I went upstairs and read away a few afternoons Stupid Freedom Mr Franzen, you re good Mo I read Freedom the week before Christmas What was I thinking Did I want a bleak, almost sullen, portrayal of America in the new century And not a complete one, either, but limited to privileged white people Why didn t I just sit on the couch, get drunk, and watch Salt and Easy A Ok, I did that, too, but my kids were off of school and apparently believe they should get to watch television as well, so I went upstairs and read away a few afternoons Stupid Freedom Mr Franzen, you re good Most writers couldn t touch your talent However, I think I d rather read something less technically adept but also less dismal and self involved If Freedom were a teenager the novel would be that really smart and well intentioned affluent kid worried about impressing Harvard in his application and doing community service at a soup kitchen but washing his hands about 100 times when he finished and then becoming aware he was washing his hands about 100 times and feeling self loathing and then writing a sincere application essay about self loathing and washing hands and soup kitchens I like that kid He means well It s not like I m working in a coal mine or whatever so I can t criticize that kid too much What s he supposed to do Leave college and become homeless just to lookauthentic Screw that But I don t want to hang out with that kid and I doubt he wants to hang out with me, and he maybe is a little too self aware to notice other people s stories except when listening makes him look like a good listener And if this story is the Great American Novel that s because people like Franzen create and pay attention to literary magazines and talk about which book is the Great American Novel while the rest of the country does something else I m ok with that I don t believe any book is the Great American Novel and no story can own everyone Freedom tells one subculture s story well but seems to imply it s telling everyone s story.I get the feeling Franzen has read a lot of endless Russian novels and aspired to write his own I read the novel quickly and slipped easily into Franzen s buttery sentences and narrative structure Near page four hundred I was reading through laced fingers I felt like I was watching a particularly intellectual movie in which the characters make some really stupid stupid fucking choices Freedom is complex and well written but, while the characters inner monologues ring truthful, their broad decisions and circumstances often do not I think Franzen is addressing the freedom theme with a focus on how Americans in particular face such a intimidating array of potentialities and the sense that you made the right one is almost impossible to attain On Tuesday you might be in love with your husband but six months later leaving him might feel perfect Which choice is a sign of truth and which of selfishness Are you repressing emotions you don t understand How well do you know your own motivations If you stay in a dead marriage are you dooming yourself to decades of regret What if the marriage isn t really dead but dormant What internal perspectives do you control that transcend success and failures Who can you trust if you don t know yourself, and how well, really, can you know yourself These are important questions, and Franzen starts the colloquy well, but these people and storylines function as privileged archetypes except when the plot architect in Franzen s consciousness decides to throw a curve here and there because he knows he s supposed to do so Franzen is sometimes too meta for his own novels good Freedom also lacks timelessness In twenty years readers will need endnotes with designations like Jeff Tweedy leader of Wilco, an influential country rock band or NPR National Public Radio, an over the airwaves audio news station often associated with affluent liberals In attempting to catch the spirit of the age Franzen has focused on details that will lack future context I guess that s ok I doubt he s writing for people 100 years down the road and the details add to the novel s landscape This is a book for white people uh, except Oprah, I guess with good intentions who listen to NPR, went to college, and kind of hate themselves sometimes Some of these people, apparently, assign awards and press coverage to literature and a weird cottage industry has emerged around slamming endorsing Jonathan Franzen s work I m going to leave that conversation to others because I don t care much one way or the other You want to argue that one, knock yourself out I ll be over here Franzen mistakes aiming high with these characters, as far as themes are considered, for universiality And I m not sure that some of the characters wild swerves arethan the author s personal regrets and fantasies Listen I m going to say that Franzen doesn t tread this territory as well as, say, Dostoevsky But remember, then, I m placing his work in the same sentence as Dostoevsky I can t think of many writers alive who can touch his technique Future generations English majors will probably read this novel in a class called American novels 2000 2050 and write term papers with titles like Materialism and Self Identity in Jonathan Franzen s Freedom They ll probably get A s Franzen, I think, has lived in that literary subculture for a long time, and he s good at delivering material that exemplifies the best it has to offer He s a brilliant technician, and I like brilliant technique, but I m not sure I loved Freedom as much as I admired it Freedom is commendable but not great, expansive but nervous in its own expanse Also, I wish I read something less fucking depressing the week before Christmas But that s my fault I should know better


  2. says:

    Update 9 23 Jonathan Franzen was in town doing a reading signing last night, and after listening to him talk, I m officially backing off of theory 1 below He does not seem like a douche bag, at all In fact, despite all the Oprah hoopla Which he described as a fiasco, not because of anything that he or Oprah did, but because the whole thing got blown out of proportion and the backlash after the early raves for Freedom, Franzen came across as remarkably down to earth and funny He seems Update 9 23 Jonathan Franzen was in town doing a reading signing last night, and after listening to him talk, I m officially backing off of theory 1 below He does not seem like a douche bag, at all In fact, despite all the Oprah hoopla Which he described as a fiasco, not because of anything that he or Oprah did, but because the whole thing got blown out of proportion and the backlash after the early raves for Freedom, Franzen came across as remarkably down to earth and funny He seems like a very smart guy who doesn t take the media hype too seriously, but is clearly having a lot of fun with all the recent attention I picked up Jonathan Franzen s The Corrections earlier this summer, and it was one of the oddest reading experiences of my life because while I despised nearly every character in it, I still enjoyed the book So when I started Freedom, I was hoping that I d find somelikeable people in this one After fifty pages, I was horrified to realize that it was looking like this book would be another collection of self absorbed asshats.At that point, I thought there were two possibilities 1 That Jonathan Franzen is a complete douche bag himself and that he actually thought he was creating sympathetic characters 2 That Franzen has an even lower opinion of people than I do and uses his skill to convey an utter contempt for mankind by creating these pathetic excuses for human beings However, as I got deeper into Freedom, and we started getting the history and alternate view points, I started to sympathize with most of the characters Except for Joey I hated that smug little bastard through the entire thing and was really hoping that he d get set on fire at some point The Berglunds seem like a prime example of family first socially conscious living They bought a house in a run down St Paul neighborhood and became the first wave of gentrification for that area Walter is a lawyer who works on environmental causes Patty was a talented college basketball player who channels all her old competitive instincts into being the best mother and neighbor possible The two kids, Jessica and Joey, are intelligent and seem destined for big things And just to give them a touch of cool in their suburban existence, Patty and Walter are old friends with Richard Katz, a womanizing musician who has just gained mainstream popularity.But the Berglunds quickly fall apart in spectacular fashion Joey moves in with a neighbor after rebelling against Patty s overwhelming love, and he and Walter can t have a conversation without it turning into a screaming match Patty has turned into a lost and bitter shadow of her former self Walter has left his old environmental job to work with a rich man with ties to the coal industry, and as the kids leave for college, the parents are off to D.C The novel covers a tremendous amount of ground, not just with the elaborate characterizations, but in terms of the backdrops From Minnesota to New York to DC to West Virginia to South America, Franzen touches on 9 11, the Iraq war, environmentalism, overpopulation, rampant consumerism and the political fracturing of America, but by keeping it in terms of a family disintegration, he keeps the story relatable One of the key things that comes up repeatedly is the idea that Americans have about freedom It s a word tossed around easily, and as Franzen explores here, many take it as their God given right to engage in mass consumption and lead completely unexamined lives with no regard for the consequences Those who ask forsocial responsibility are derided as liberals and intellectuals and elitists I m pretty sure Sarah Palin would hate this book Assuming she could find someone to read it to her and explain the big words But this isn t about idealizing liberal policies Franzen makes a lot of valid points about how American politics has become a constant screaming matchconcerned with beating the other guy than accomplishing anything He makes good use of the character of Walter to illustrate how all the pent up rage and frustration, even for a good cause, can make for a pretty miserable life What good is trying to save the world if you can t stand any of the people in it Terrific book that s almost a pitch perfect statement about what American life has been like since 2000 as seen through the eyes of some flawed, but decent people Except for Joey That kid is a prick While freedom and happiness are usually considered to go hand in hand, these characters show that poorly used freedom can make you supremely unhappy.Random thoughts There s several similarities to The Corrections Everyone hates their family There s a very odd love triangle A mother son relationship is pushed to creepy extremes to irritate a father A character gets caught up in an elaborate overseas get rich quick scheme The daughter of the family is probably the most adult and sensible character And there s a really nasty scene involving human turds Eww What s with all the poop, Franzen One of my favorite parts was Richard Katz s interview where he makes several hilarious comments about the music industry The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality, also prone, should the dream ever sour, to misanthropy and rage. That s just about my entire existence summed up in one sentence There s a plot point involving cats attacking song birds late in the book Just as I was reading this section, a stray cat came up on our deck and tried to attack one of our two house kitties through the door screen It was very startling to be reading about feral cats and then hear godawful yowling, hissing, screeching and general mayhem in the next room For a second, I thought Franzen was so good that he caused me to have audio hallucinations


  3. says:

    Here s the thing about this book I was really expecting to enjoy it I say that for two reasons The first is The Corrections Not the book itself, which is still quietly residing on my shelf, waiting for its day in the sun Nay, I speak of the buzz You see, I know people And a lot of those people read things And some of those things were their own copies of The Corrections And the buzz was, as far as I could tell, that the people that I know liked The Corrections In fact, their only compl Here s the thing about this book I was really expecting to enjoy it I say that for two reasons The first is The Corrections Not the book itself, which is still quietly residing on my shelf, waiting for its day in the sun Nay, I speak of the buzz You see, I know people And a lot of those people read things And some of those things were their own copies of The Corrections And the buzz was, as far as I could tell, that the people that I know liked The Corrections In fact, their only complaint seemed to be that there were no likeable characters in the book, that they all seemed petty and kind of horrible But, and here s the twist , that actually sounded like a selling point to me Because, I m actually a little petty myself, I m prone to dabble in misanthropy and, besides, who doesn t love a good antihero The second reason that I was ready to love Freedom is that I have read a touch of Franzen in my day Not much, mind you But I found How To Be Alone an incredibly well crafted and insightful read I was struck by the way the collection dealt reasonably with the complicated position of literarily minded folk in a digital age I was so taken with How To Be Alone, in fact, that I thought there was simply no way that Freedom could be bad Even if it wasn t overflowing with goodness, it certainly wouldn t be unpleasant In short, my formal adoration of Freedom was simply a forgone conclusion, an eventuality waiting to transpire.Oh, me.Let me break off a little truth for you I hated reading this book The thing that s frustrating about it is that there is no one quality that makes it bad The characters are unlikeable, but not in a devil may care, what will they do next kind of way The characters are odious because they are self absorbed and petty butthan that, they re insufferably boring It s not that they don t wander around hurting each other it s that their sins are largely those of inaction or inertia that they sit around and complain to themselves and moan on about their disappointments, and you find yourself relieved when they actually take action of some kind, no matter what it is, simply because it means something is happening in the book, that you are reading a novel wherein events happen that have significance And you quickly find that you not only start to wish the characters thorough unhappiness, but further, you actually long for some kind horrible nuclear disaster to clear the slate so that Franzen can just start over with an entirely new cast midway through the novel.The truth is that I tried really, really hard to hold out hope for the novel The point of no return for me was right around when the author intimates that everyone secretly enjoys the smell of their own flatulence Cue my head slamming into the table I was reading at In all honesty, I didn t just dislike the book I came to resent the very existence of the world in which the characters existed It made me wish the Genesis had never happened, that God had refrained from rendering form out of the formless at all I would rather read Jonathon Franzen s descriptions of the void than another wretched moment in the lives of these abysmal characters


  4. says:

    Okay, so earlier this summer I was waiting to see The National play Prospect ParkOf course you were, Jessica. but bear with me, that s my point , and I sent a text message to the guy who d given me the tickets, thanking him again and observing that White People don t LIKE seeing The National play Prospect Park White People LOVE seeing The National play Prospect Park This was a reference, of course, to the oft quoted blog that holds a very high place on the seemingly endless list it Okay, so earlier this summer I was waiting to see The National play Prospect ParkOf course you were, Jessica. but bear with me, that s my point , and I sent a text message to the guy who d given me the tickets, thanking him again and observing that White People don t LIKE seeing The National play Prospect Park White People LOVE seeing The National play Prospect Park This was a reference, of course, to the oft quoted blog that holds a very high place on the seemingly endless list it identified, of Stuff White People Like Now, I ve always felt a bit annoyed and repelled by the lazy shorthand of race there, then ashamed when I use it myself since really the demographic group in question is, like the crowd at the bandshell, not exclusively white, and since there are millions of white people whom it does not describe but the concept s too pricelessly apt to resist frequent citing.The brilliance of Stuff White People Like is in its identification of a socioeconomic group which is, yes, largely white, butto the point Obama voting, liberal arts degree holding, farmers market shopping, NPR listening, irony appreciating, New Yorker subscribing, boutique cable show watching, indie rock listening, Clash tee shirt wearing baby rearing, freelance or nonprofit job working, and neighborhood gentrifying, but also profoundly self loathing in a weird and specific way that is a bit hard either to detach from or reconcile with its incredible self absorption and uncomfortable, only partly ironic smugness and conviction that the stuff it likes is good.Jonathan Franzen should be on the list of Stuff White People Like, but he should also be on the perhaps equivalent list of Stuff White People Don t Want To Like But Do, which reflects the ambivalent discomfort of this particular group We don t want to like Franzen, because we re supposed to, and that contrarian streak is built into our bones And to add to all that, Franzen writes about and nails our very essence I can t think of another book that so perfectly sums up and explores the attributes and complexities of this particular set.Okay, enough with all this generalization did this white person like Freedom Well okay, the first 190 pages was the most fun I ve had in years And I did really like Freedom, and wish I could give it three point five stars My criterion for the fourth star is that I itch to read it, and I itched like crazy while reading it Yeah, this book was good.A confession my behavior while traveling in public, and especially on mass transit, can best be described as sociopathic If you live in this city and perhaps evenlikely if you don t, but have visited there s a fair chance I ve harmed you physically while I ran for the train Sorry, but you probably don t walk fast enough, and I was trying to get to the platform The TRAIN might be coming, and I GOT to be on it Understand that I am in a great hurry to arrive in short order wherever I m going, which is somewhat inexplicable since once I m there I don t have much to do, and will probably just sit there, dicking around on the Internet but while I m en route, I m a terror, and slow old ladies be damned I ll hit them with my umbrella I ll give them all flat tires But while reading Freedom the number of citywide subway station stair assaults must have dropped I was in no particular hurry to get where I was headed, and often took the local train or waited for the next less crowded car I took crosstown buses where normally I motor on foot, and rode elevators instead of my usual mad running up the stairs Over the past week, I honestly looked forward to my commute, and to deadtime at work waiting in a courtroom, because these moments gave me another opportunity to read This is one of two of the most important tests of a book it was so entertaining and so fabulously engaging that I wanted to pick it up at actually all times.The other test, though, Freedom didn t really pass I did vastly enjoy a lot of this book, but it didn t give me therare and elusive experience that s the other main thing that I want when I m reading I didn t ultimately feel moved, not emotionally or ontologically I didn t see the world, or my life, in an earthshaking new way I did start wondering briefly about how my parents might ve fucked me up, but not in a fruitful way, so I don t think that counts And while I did definitely like it, and got involved with the characters, by the end I felt disappointed, and also pretty bored.Sorry, this is already pretty long and not much of a review Let s see, Freedom is a novel about a family, the Berglunds, and if you want to read a good review of it, I defer to Mike Reynolds I myself was instantly hooked from the beginning chapter, which is a description of the family from the perspective of the community where they live, and I loved loved the next portion, an autobiography wonderfully titled Mistakes Were Made by the wife, Patty Berglund, which takes us up to page 187 But I m afraid that for me, things did peak there, and I m a bit baffled by all the buzz about greatest living American writer and genius I did like this book But it wasn t that great.So but like, I really don t follow these things, but full disclosure, I couldn t free myself while reading from thoughts about the Author, and I really don t think that this was just me Other reviews on this site have noted that the characters are all a lot the same, but I don t really see that as a problem, and that s kind of what I liked about it For me, the only character that never really came off was daughter Jessica, which I maybe took too personally, as that is my name I did like the part where Jessica agonizes over the impossibility of finding a decent New York guy to go out with, though I liked itin the abstract, and wanted its execution to beamazing I felt a bit shortchanged when it came to the son s relationship with his lady there were all the seeds to be sown, and then we just stopped hearing about them But my point partly, with the Franzenness, was that the two parents did feel very real, maybe theso for seeming like two only slightly varying manifestations of the same certain guy.Here s my beef about Jonathan Franzen, and I know I should do somegoogle research before I start on with this, but I m feeling kind of lazy, and I doubt anyone s still reading this See, I associate him, like a lot of people, with that Oprah thing in the nineties, when he withdrew from being in the Oprah bookclub, got lots of shit, and as a result maybe became wildly popular Franzen s Wikipedia article has a quotation from him at that time, in which he explains that he didn t want people thinking The Corrections was a women s book by people I mean men, of course and therefore not reading it Now again, I m only dimly aware of what s been going on recently, but I ve heard lady authors are bitching like we do about all the press and blowjobs Franzen s been getting, and suggesting that this is really all because of that Y chromosome he has And honestly, I was distracted while reading this by my conviction that it s true.I don t want to plagiarize, though I can t remember who said it, but some upset woman I read at some point was complaining about the chick lit ghetto and said that Franzen writes what are essentially domestic novels, and that if he weren t a man they d be considered women s fiction And that, friend, is true. It is painfully true Especially the better, earlier, female perspectived portion of this novel is all about relationships and a marriage and family, and all those lady things And if Jonathan were Jessica Franzen, at least half the readers he has except Mike Reynolds, boy wonder, who actually reads stuff by chicks would never have touched it and it would ve had some dumb pinky cover, but because he s a man, it s a Serious Novel Yeah, actually I do really think that Without all the male masturbation and the obviously male author, this could ve so easily been written off as chick lit And it makes me perhaps unjustly hate Jonathan Franzen to think that he might not recognize that It might not seem this way, but I m not one of those people who carries on endlessly about WhiteMalePrivilege, but I actually do want to with him Because he gets the kind of attention that similarly talented women wouldn t get, while writing about topics that aren t considered Serious when women write about them.Okay, I m sorry, I m rambling again really bad day at work, srsly, sorry This book, hm, well whatcan I say Franzen is a terrific writer, and I loved the addictive easiness of his prose style, which can unfortunately come back and bite an author because it makes any glitch seem egregious I hated the partial sentences that seemed to creep inas the novel progressed, though I might not have noticed them if his writing weren t otherwise so perfect He writes sentences as readable as the most digestible best seller, but good The problem is that being that good makes people angrier if you let them down Especially if those people are me, and apply ridiculously high standards to anything they have great hopes for, while giving tons of social work sympathy to the obvious losers You guys should hope that I never have children I ll criticize and neglect the good kid, while coddling the fuck up Okay, I did feel let down by this book again, I really liked it But by the end I felt bored by the characters, especially by depression which is deadly boring note my biases, as a reader who was unable to make it all the way through David Foster Wallace s short story The Depressed Person despite thinking it brilliant , and I really thought the plot and characters ran off the road at later points into melodrama At a certain early juncture I felt sure our Berglunds marriage would survive, though I wasn t sure I cared that it did, or what that had to do with me.But don t get me wrong This was a very fine novel Frazen s ability to create characters is wonderful, and the whole thing s pretty zeitgeisty, which is nice in this dying form No, sorry Jonathan it s not War and Peace But in its mostly successful efforts to link the narcissistic and eerily familiar concerns of individuals to the larger events and forces of our time, it is a lot closer than anything recent I can think of.Best of all, now I have something to fall back on, the next time I m at a Brooklyn party and the White People are all talking about True Blood Haven t seen it, I ll admit, as I swig a microbrew But have you read Freedom And we ll take it from there


  5. says:

    This book hoovers you into its world from the first page and before you know what s what you ve missed your bus stop and you are into it But there are problems Yes I will tell you about some of them You would expect no less of me.I was reading along with the main character Patty Berglund s autobiographical statement Mistakes Were Made p 27 187 and was lapping it up until soap bubbles began appearing between me and the page The bubbles became suds undeniable suds I could not divest This book hoovers you into its world from the first page and before you know what s what you ve missed your bus stop and you are into it But there are problems Yes I will tell you about some of them You would expect no less of me.I was reading along with the main character Patty Berglund s autobiographical statement Mistakes Were Made p 27 187 and was lapping it up until soap bubbles began appearing between me and the page The bubbles became suds undeniable suds I could not divest myself of the realisation that things were getting soapier by the minute no, I said, to any passing stranger who I could get to take an interest in the current state of literature, this is Jonathan Franzen messing with our heads, taunting us with the cardboardy and the cutouty This is not to be taken completely seriously E.g., hoving into view, with his axe in his hand, comes a character called Richard Katz, indie rock god, Mr Moody Bohemia and all purpose babe magnet.Richard KatsWears cool hatsHas eyes for Patty Whose friend is batty His room mate WalterWill never fault herHer heart may wanderBut his gets fonderLong and lean isRichard s penisWalter s trustingBut Patty s lustingWait is this FranzenOr marzipanzen As Mr Katz s pecker rose, so did my heart sink, for he is indeed a creature from Romanceland that place of untrammelled pecs and mesmerising vaginas His sultry pouting unshaven lips launch a thousand bustling teenage hips and one glance from his stubbly unshaven pouting guitar causes the female heart to bound about like an escaping baboon, and indeed such is his popularity that he can hardly write his tuneful songs of ten minute angst for having to shoo flocks of sweet 18 year olds gently away from his private parts This character is played straight We are to take this character seriously and we are not to laugh I gradually became aware of this as the character Richard Katz did not go away And oh my goodness gracious me, there is some horrible writing that bubbles up whenever he is centre stage Richard is yes, you get the picture the cool but morally bankrupt friend of Walter, the entirely uncool but totally bicycling and planet befriending morally good guy Here s Richard meditating on his friendship with Walter No other man had warmed Katz s loins the way the sight of Walter did after long absence These groinal heatings were noabout literal sex, nohomo, than the hard ons he got from a long anticipated first snort of blow.Ewww Richard Katz describing a woman A solid B plus that could be an A minus if she would work for extra credit.Again Ewww By page 200 I was thinking that I d be havingfun watching Desperate Housewives because the dialogue is wittier It got so I was playing the game of spotting titles of old songs amidst the soap I got I only want to be with you Dusty Springfield, page 235 , and What are you going to do when I m gone Barbara Lewis, p 452 Okay, what s good about Freedom Ha ha, what an ironical question This book gets most of its points for trying really really hard For vein throbbing brain melding attempts to encompass the economics of Iraqi reconstruction contracts, mountaintop removal mining, songbird conservation and sundry other realities of the world s most modern country, and embed all of this into sketches of how two or three complicated families live from day to day and year to year, to pull all this together well actually, a lot of the time it s like JF is flailing away at his material, not the assured mover of chess pieces on the board but the frantically photographing camcording and ambulance chasing kind of novelist who rushes around after his many characters can t quite keep up with them all That part of the whole thing I liked But oh phrases like His thing with Connie was too intense and strange too sincere, too muddled with love to be fungible as coin of bragging.and Connie had a wry compact intelligence, a firm little clitoris of discernment and sensitivityand Katz s blood was up, he was all jittery jangly It was like coke cut heavily with nasty meth. Is this a simile JF thinks will ring bells with his readers No, so it s something his character the egregious Katz would think But then how does this translate its meaning to the non coke cut heavily with nasty meth hoovering reader It translates as It was really quite unpleasant or I assume so Maybe if the meth was nice he d be just jangly and not jittery too Oh I don t know Anyway pretty ghastly And oh well, while I m moaning and griping, here s someOn occasion Franzen goes into page long riffs on such things as road rage or the stupid things that teenagers do these are exactly like riffs in a stand up comedian s routine They re quite fun in a sneery sort of way but they do seem like JF is getting a bit of humour in there in case he gets accused of having written another Big Depressing Hell In A Handbasket Novel, which really, this is Iraq, global warning, environmental destruction, overpopulation, oh oh oh woe is us woe is us, smite us Lord, we fully deserve every last smite.And now obviously JF does not wish to do this, but every time one of his young characters say Jessica berates one of his slightly less young characters say Lalitha for being out of touch with they way young people do right now e.g not knowing that kids have mostly abandoned emailing for texting he, JF, is perforce, as author, advertising just how down with the kids he himself is, which, alas and alack, is kind of like seeing your 52 year old uncle do the Twist No, the Frug No, I mean that Body Pop thing And this book is built out of sturdy slabs of knowingness and social nuance You have to get what s intended by the great many phrases like in the earliest years when you could drive a Volvo 240 without feeling self conscious Well, maybe some of us can t quite be bothered to rack our brains to think what a Volvo 240 is and why it became something you would be ashamed of JF Well, do your homework then I want active engaged readers PB Yeah, I know, sorry and all But I did finish your damned big book So, you know, be quiet JF in a Freedom promoting interview said that the most important thing he should be doing in his novels is To find an adequate narrative vehicle for the most difficult stuff at the core of me, in the hope that that might resonate with the reader who otherwise has been feeling alone with those deep, difficult feelings Well, he tried, he really tried, and for a great number of star besprinkling reviewers, he succeeded It s good, it is er good, long but good, long long long but quite good


  6. says:

    After reading Wuthering Heights, I had this idea I should make a bookshelf called Assholes and Asshats, a little place that could serve as a warning to people who immediately disregard books containing characters they have trouble relating to and sympathizing with You know, jerks, dickwads, the stoney cold and self involved, the pompously mean and rich or bitterly poor and junk addled characters loitering about within the pages of many harder to swallow books Personally, I have both experie After reading Wuthering Heights, I had this idea I should make a bookshelf called Assholes and Asshats, a little place that could serve as a warning to people who immediately disregard books containing characters they have trouble relating to and sympathizing with You know, jerks, dickwads, the stoney cold and self involved, the pompously mean and rich or bitterly poor and junk addled characters loitering about within the pages of many harder to swallow books Personally, I have both experienced a lot of shittiness in life and inflicted it on others, so I find it important and enlightening to read about just how much people of which I am one can and often do royally suck to and about one another I don t need a likable lead in order to power through a book, and I in fact very often desire just the opposite There can be a richness to such characters, an honesty which is frequently lacking in Hero like characters and or the tragically trampled upon, naively and purely good souls featured insoul massaging, hopeful literature And Freedom is mostly not a nice tale It is, rather, almost 600 pages about assholes and asshats being assholes and asshats to each other to varying degrees over a long period of time It is not a tale for happy housewives, no matter what Oprah Winfrey said about it Freedom teeters for me I offer it a respectful four stars, but as I distance myself from it, I can already see it wobbling near the edge about to drop back into the 3 star realm Don t get me wrong I enjoyed the book It is not sloggy at all the little time it takes to breeze through this thing seems almost unfair to the actual physical bulk of the text I never found myself bored or bogged down, and I felt invested in the outcome of the story to the very last page I think a lot of what helped keep up the pace was the fact that the story was told from the viewpoint of several different narrators, all interconnected, providing shifts in style and perspective which made for arounded out experience of the events, and a deeper understanding of the individual players in this drama their motives, needs, baggage, etc However, even with the inside scoop, something kept bothering me about these particular assholes hats They seemed almosttoo familiar Flat in a lot of ways, despite the time and effort put into rounding them out I know a lot of people may disagree with me about this, but hear me out if you would be so kind Here is a brief description of each of the main characters Walter The Guy You Are Supposed To Pity Sweet, ideological, overachieving, good friend, good husband, good citizen, liberal, book smart, giving, loving, naive, nature preserving Walteryou know, the rug for thevenomous characters feet, the guy who never does wrong by anybody, and so spends his life being sucked dry by Shitty Friend Generic Rock Star Studs and She Beasts Patty The She Beast Selfish, underachieving, shitty wife, shitty mother, vortex of negativity and self pity, wine sluggin , two timin , emotional breakdown havin , bi polar Patty She is the thorn in many a side, and is presumably only happy when playing basketball, interacting with her Mirror Image With a Penis of a son, booze binging till a purge, or engaging in torrid sexual encounters with some Shitty Friend Generic Rock Star Stud.Richard The Shitty Friend Generic Rock Star Stud Oh, this one s my favorite Here s a guy in a band who likes to sleep with his much younger fans surprise and best friend s crushes and girlfriends oh no , has off and on substance abuse problems whaaaat , doesn t really know himself until it is too late you re kidding me and is a ramblin man who can never really give a part of his heart to anyone or be meaningful at all in anyone s life but his own because gifted musicians are apparently wholly incapable of multi tasking on any level whatsoever Aside from, of course, the sex aaaay seXXX level, since all musicians are spectacular in bedspectacular and rough Didn t you know that There is a bit of depth hidden within Richard s brotherly love for Walter and distant longing for Walter and Patty s normal life, but even these somewhat numb feelings arelet s say misplaced I ll stop here with Richard, since if I say anything , there will only be a few crumbles of substance left for the novel to reveal Simply put, you have for the most part heard it all before in any random teen movie Child Unit 1 Patty With A Penis aka Joey All the traits of Patty, only politically conservative, money hungry, and penis having.Child Unit 2 Walter With A Vag aka Jessica Most of the traits of Walter, with far, far less character development than basically anyone else in the book She is about as important to this story and the family within it, as prized, as a 2nd or 3rd born girl child in China.Connie The Inspirational Doormat The neighbor girl She teaches young women that if you blindly love someone, tailor all your life decisions around him and his whims, deal with him ignoring you for months at a time, cheating on you repeatedly, and generally treating you like shit, and then you apologize profusely for bothering him by mentioning any of it, things may work out for you after all If you really start feeling isolated and pathetic, just sleep around and then call him to tell him all about it that ll get him knockin at your window again Work it, girl I have typed a lot of words here, but I have mostly focused on what pissed me off and ignored what I appreciated about this novel There are other characters of notable importance that I have failed to mention, and there is generallyto the ones that I have brought up However, the basic shells still stand, and they feel redundant You have seen this film a dozen times, you know how the drama plays out, and yet Franzen is rich with the gifts of both believable dialogue and perfect pacing, so he somehow manages to pull it all together into an engaging story You feel for most of the characters, no matter how much you may dislike them I guess the other thing about the novel that really got to me was this twist on the above characters rather than simply standing as unawares examples of common character motifs, these people were all terribly hyper aware of themselves Unlike most storybook characters who see their own motivations as pure and good, yet come to find themselves shocked by their own bad behavior, Franzen s characters fully dissect and execute their plans of being horrible to one another in advance, and come to find themselves instead shocked by their inherent goodness They seem surprised that they even give a shit about each other and the world around them I know people often trick and misread themselves leading to much mistake making, but do people actually analyze themselves as much as Franzen s characters do and consider the awful shit they pull so thoroughly beforehand only to find in the end that they didn t really know anything about themselves and actually just really, really lurrrrrve each other Really Sorry to complain so much Again, I did enjoy this book You probably will, too Just be forewarned that there are a lot of predictably soapy scenes coming from a lot of predictably soapy characters, they are often mean as shit to one another, and their heads are for the most part buried deeply within their behinds assholes and asshats Oh, onething I waited so long to read this guy because I mixed him up with the Jon F who wrote Everything is Illuminated, and for no good reason aside from a vague annoyance with that movie simply the idea of that book and its author got on my nerves I was wrong, so I gave this novel a shot I ll probably read another Franzen Upon reflection, this is getting downgraded to a 3 I m too nice with these starsso I m putting my foot down, dammit


  7. says:

    Freedom is Terrible, by Katie GAbridged for your convenience in list formBefore you think I m mean, please note that freedom is terrible is kind of the point of Franzen s book Freedom doesn t get you what you want Uninhibited, it brings a whole slew of problems along with it and, assuming you re not a slave or living in North Korea, the fact that your life is miserable is not due to a lack of freedom Ironically, you can also substitute the book Freedom for the word freedom above, and i Freedom is Terrible, by Katie GAbridged for your convenience in list formBefore you think I m mean, please note that freedom is terrible is kind of the point of Franzen s book Freedom doesn t get you what you want Uninhibited, it brings a whole slew of problems along with it and, assuming you re not a slave or living in North Korea, the fact that your life is miserable is not due to a lack of freedom Ironically, you can also substitute the book Freedom for the word freedom above, and it doesn t change the meaning of anything, which is kind of unintentionally funny on Franzen s part And thus, we come to my review.My Reasons for Hating This Book A Every single person in this book is an asshole, a narcissist, or both, and after being around them for 500 slow going pages, I now hate humankind It s no big secret that Franzen isn t particularly fond of humanity, but if he doesn t care about his characters, why should I B Unnecessary storylines and characters Cutting out Jenna and her DB Goldman boyfriend Nick, Eliza the Sociopath, and Lalitha and the Free Space population control mission alone would have saved me from 200 pages of non integral reading NB I understand why Franzen created these characters and found them necessary, but if the pages of your book turn like they re covered in molasses, you don t really want the unabridged version C The whole thing felt directionless Books don t need to end tied up in a pretty bow, but I would still like to believe that authors sit down to write a book because they have a story to tell Otherwise, beginnings, ends, middles they re all arbitrary Even Tolstoy had a larger plan, but I m not convinced Franzen did.D The whole thing reeked of American Beauty esque disenfranchised yuppie ism Your problems are not that interesting, important or unique As such, I contend that Freedom is terrible


  8. says:

    Take two parts Tom Wolfe, one part Charles Dickens, stir in generous portions of current events and humor, breath over it tragedy like pouring vermouth on a very dry martini, bake in a pan of realistic humanism and you have this wonderful book called Freedom We get to know four generations of Berglands, from the comfortable but restraining farms of Sweden to the comfortable but restraining backwoods of Minnesota We get to learn family dynamics and are privy to relationships that work and many Take two parts Tom Wolfe, one part Charles Dickens, stir in generous portions of current events and humor, breath over it tragedy like pouring vermouth on a very dry martini, bake in a pan of realistic humanism and you have this wonderful book called Freedom We get to know four generations of Berglands, from the comfortable but restraining farms of Sweden to the comfortable but restraining backwoods of Minnesota We get to learn family dynamics and are privy to relationships that work and many that do not We also get to know the Emersons, the Paulsons, the Moynahans and a very archetypal musician who is at once repelled by his personified stereotype and powerless to do anything but wallow in his own self centeredness We also get to know dozens of other characters who are as realistic portraits of true life as if they were shaken dry Polaroids Franzen s true gift is his characterizations, which are spot on, multi layered and rich in detail The story is compelling, entrancing, funny, heartbreaking and thought provoking In Freedom, Franzen has painted a picture of our time, who we are now and how we got here But fundamentally, it is also an illustration of hope Because as a family is a microcosm of a society, we are very messed up, but also OK deep down and no matter how bad it gets, Franzen offers an always accessible option of hope and reconciliation, if only we choose it


  9. says:

    UPDATED.To keep in style of the book this review will be just a lot of rambling I mean, it was mostly a soap opera And I just don t do soap operas I can just about manage about 10 minutes every 5th episode, but that s about it And Franzen submitted me to 570 bloody pages of a soap opera which I had to digest in a few sittings Like in all soap operas, everything ends well and love conquers all, of course some characters might have to be killed off along the way, but it seems like a small pri UPDATED.To keep in style of the book this review will be just a lot of rambling I mean, it was mostly a soap opera And I just don t do soap operas I can just about manage about 10 minutes every 5th episode, but that s about it And Franzen submitted me to 570 bloody pages of a soap opera which I had to digest in a few sittings Like in all soap operas, everything ends well and love conquers all, of course some characters might have to be killed off along the way, but it seems like a small price to pay for a happy ending, non If it was well written, then maybe But how can I take this sort of thing seriously Patty said no, Walter insisted, she insisted no, he insisted yes Then she realized he didn t have a car and was offering to ride the bus with her, and she insisted no all over again, and he insisted yes Sorry, what is this Is this the Great American Novel Are you kidding me She almost suggested to Walter that he had better kiss her first, if he was going to be asking her to live with him, but she was so offended that she didn t feel like being kissed at that moment And if you are tired of this sugary girly revelations, you can get theraw stuff when the perspective changes to Katz His dick was saying yes to something now, and this something was certainly not the wideish ass of the retreating jogger Had death, in fact, been his dick s message in sending him to Washington Had he simply misunderstood its prophecy You get the idea.And don t even get me started on the fucked up chronology It wasn t done in eloquent, mysterious way, it was done in a blabbermouth with ADHD way It is like my friend Maciek, who tells me a story and in the middle of it he remembers some other story that might or might not be related to the story he is telling me so he tells me that other story, and then some other story that somehow came from the second story, and then maybe he will return to the main story and you end up wondering if the second story actually happened in the middle of the first story or it was just his way of telling a story.The final moral from this book is that we are all fucked up in our own special way but it will all be alright unless, of course, we become Republicans, in which case there will be no redemption It almost killed me This book almost killed me But as they say what doesn t kill you makes you stronger, therefore this book made stronger, so for that alone I had to give it two stars I will admit that Patty and Walter were both interesting characters with all the supporting cast being all sorts of caricatures and serving as props to the main duo.Now, I am off to read a book about people who do things and have real problems UPDATE oh yeah And I also forgot to say that if this book was written by a woman, it would be deemed chick lit and stuck in a pastel colour cover with birds and flowers No one would even look at it twice because there is so much better chick lit out there But as Jonathan Franzen is lucky enough to be a man, this, all of a sudden, is the Great American Novel DON T MAKE ME LAUGH.If anyone else claims there is no sexism in literary publishing world, this here is my best demonstrative evidence that there is Honest to God, who would take this book seriously if it was written by a woman and had something pink on the cover


  10. says:

    Uh oh I didn t like it Review coming up faster than you can say jismic grunting butt oink Would you think me a nutjob if I told you that Franzen s Freedom reads less like a novel than like an extremely articulate gossip column Hear me out.I admit that it can be difficult for me to appreciate the kind of undiluted realism that Franzen favors, because so much of what I value in art is tied into one form of defamiliarization or another Simply putting a mirror up to the world can be interest Uh oh I didn t like it Review coming up faster than you can say jismic grunting butt oink Would you think me a nutjob if I told you that Franzen s Freedom reads less like a novel than like an extremely articulate gossip column Hear me out.I admit that it can be difficult for me to appreciate the kind of undiluted realism that Franzen favors, because so much of what I value in art is tied into one form of defamiliarization or another Simply putting a mirror up to the world can be interesting, even enlightening, but it rarely stirs my blood or makes me feel anything beyond purely intellectual admiration It s also true that I have no love for the drama of suburban disaffection and infidelity That I still kind of admired the book despite this heavily stacked deck is a testament to Franzen s writerly professionalism When I say professionalism rather than something like brilliance I don t mean to damn him with faint praise well, I do, but the praise is sincere despite its faintness Based solely on Freedom I never finished The Corrections, to my embarrassment I think Franzen isa skilled but overreaching craftsman than the epochal artist he s being sold as, if you ll forgive a tired dichotomy See, just about everyone, hagiographer and agnostic alike, has noted that the book is thoroughly readable and absorbing Franzen s craftsmanship lies in his mastery of the fundamentals how to structure a story, introduce a character, craft prose that speeds along with momentum, etc that lead to prime readability But why is it that, each time I put the book down after being reasonably absorbed, I felt a bad taste in my mouth Despite his vaunted observational acumen which, to be honest, I found kind of blinkered and basic Franzen s treatment of his characters is too often tainted by he said she said superficiality This book reads like your smartest friend talking smack about your other friends Or, perhaps, given Franzen s fixation on familial resentment, a better metaphor might be your cranky uncle kvetching eloquently about your bratty cousins Which might sound like a bit of bitchy fun, but remember we re talking about 500 pages here, and that shit gets old Yes, Franzen relishes wading into the muck of his characters twisted and morally corrupt psyches, but what he finds there seems less like authentically messy human complexity than a prefabricated, prescriptive mechanism of misbehavior I didn t even realize what the missing ingredient was until Franzen made a belated stab at inserting it What s missing is compassion Without authorial compassion for his troubled characters, those characters development gets arrested at a half baked, shallow level, no matter how frantically Franzen limns their consciousnesses Franzen keeps digging and digging, but he never gets past the surface, because he s using the wrong shovel When he finally tries a little tenderness at the end, it s like the deathbed conversion of a lifelong atheist sincere, but untrustworthy.Where the New York Times sees a genius who uses his profound moral intelligence to illuminate the world we thought we knew, I see a good writer who has crafted a cynical soap opera against a ripped from the headlines Bush era backdrop ensuring baseless Great American Novel hosannas from the press Melodrama would, I suppose, be a kinder term than soap opera or gossip column, but that genre designation carries certain associations blatant artificiality, crying on the outside catharsis, stylistic opulence that don t apply here And yet the book does, at times, feel like littlethan a bad melodrama, a dour monotony representing neither the real world of emotions nor a freshly imagined authorial perspective on same.And you know, if Franzen wanted to explore how Americans abuse their personal and political freedoms, I m not sure why he chose such a blandly familiar cycle of jerks hurting jerks to express this potentially interesting theme Mistakes are made resentment simmers betrayal explodes lather, rinse, repeat, pass on to younger generation Marriage is hard, depression is insidious, infidelity can be a moral gray area, children shape their lives in reaction to their parents lives, etc I don t claim to be the world s closest reader, but I just don t see the profundity in that Not that profundity is a requirement of good fiction, but apart from the finely crafted prose I m not sure this book even justifies its existence Franzen buries his would be thesis in an aside about somebody s immigrant grandfather The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality also prone, should the dream ever sour, to misanthropy and rage OK, that has a nice aphoristic ring to it But who are the personalities susceptible to limitless freedom all Americans If Franzen is saying that all Americans are prone to misanthropy and rage, I have three responses to that 1 No shit, Sherlock 2 That s not unique to Americans 3 What exactly does freedom have to do with misanthropy What s the causality there If that s the question you tried to answer with your book, Franzy, I don t think you pulled it off Frankly, I mconvinced by that glib David Cross bit about how watching an episode of The Simple Life made him realize that he hated our freedom as much as George W Bush said the terrorists did.I don t regret reading this though I do regret buying the hardcover I ve now done my due diligence with Franzen and can safely ignore him from now on He goes on the I Don t Get It list, alongside such other beloved by people who aren t me artists as Hayao Miyazaki and Joy Division.But hey, my hometown of Oak Park, Illinois gets name checked in spectacularly bizarre fashion, so let me reproduce that by way of closing Walter s sophisticated Chicago cousin Leif told informative and harrowing stories of the big city suburbs most memorable and worry provoking, for Walter, was the one about an Oak Park eighth grader who d managed to get naked with a girl and then, unsure about what was supposed to happen next, had peed all over her legs. Hell yeah, motherfucker That s how we roll

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