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In my opinion Jonathan Franzen’s new book Crossroads is totally worth one’s money and most importantly one's time. It is a complex book, as well as beautiful and engaging. It deals with many important subjects that I guess worry, interest, excite many of us. Religion. Faith and lack thereof. Dangers of growing up and maturing. Selfishness, irritating, destructive, indispensable. But probably it is love that is the focal point, the source of many complications and entanglements. Love — romantic, erotic, parental, filial. Selfish and selfless. Profane and sacred. In this book there are so many things, thoughts, emotions, experiences, that I have recognised. From other books, from other lives, from my own life. From neither of, except my most private fears and temptations. And this must be an essential element of a good book’s secret and appeal. Someone may say after reading it, I didn’t like it. Fair enough. But, again my opinion only, it is a pleasure and a privilege to be a contemporary of Mr. Franzen and his work. And to be able to tell a spouse, a friend, a child (a grandchild? years and years later), well I remember October 2021 when Franzen’s latest book came out, there it is by the way on the middle shelf. See? Stout and proud the way hardcovers are. I thought I would wait for a couple of months, sort of wait for the noise and excitement to settle down. But no, a week after its release there I was sitting on the sofa engrossed in it.
I am so much looking forward to the next two books.
Alas it seem that Mr. Franzen is reduced to shibboleths much like America itself. His excuse would be that his story is set in the seventies but a fresher take would have been welcome. Some of the old magic keeps the pages turning but not enough here to create the empathy that's so absent elsewhere.
This is perhaps the best novel by Franzen since The Corrections. It is written with the point-of-view method, which probably leads to the prose being rather pedestrian (except for Marion and the pedantic Perry). I liked most the character development and the resolution of the plot. Looking forward to the next novels of the trilogy.
Yes, all of the characters in the Hildebrandt family (with the exception of the oblivious youngest son, Judson) are at a crossroads, as we are reminded again and again (hear the refrain of the famous blues song): the damaged children coming to terms with the poor parenting of their damaged parents, Russ and Marion. The story loses its credibility because of Franzen's need to build every relationship to a simultaneous crescendo of crisis, and the resulting multiple climaxes feel strained and artificial. For example, Perry, the brilliant pothead son, who goes from smoking a few joints to being a an out-of-his-mind cokehead in the course of a few pages. We are supposed to believe that he has inherited his mother's past history of depression and his grandfather's mental illness, and this is the reason for his addiction. But the orchestration of his downfall felt almost like it came out of Reefer Madness: the gateway drug creating desperate addiction. And Becky, his sister, who smokes a joint with some friends and then has a born-again Christian experience that changes her life. Are they smoking a little weed or taking strong psychedelics? Did Franzen have some bad cannabis experiences as a teenager? None of it seemed real. And I was also frankly bored by all of the religious angst. The pastor father, Russ is really the center of the family and the cause of its disintegration. But his present and past stories are so dull and earnest that I simply lost interest and ended up skimming huge chunks. He is neither interesting nor sympathetic in his pathological jealousy of his rival or his erotic fixation on his boring parishioner. I could offer similar critiques of every character. Save your money.
This new Franzen's book goes back to the writing skills the Author seemed recently had lost. I found the same poignant but sharp insights of the character of each of the people who intertwine their lives together in the book. The plot is quite simple but articulated enough to allow the reader curiosity maintaining vitality. It reminds to me the feverly reading of Freedom, some years ago, remaining IMHO the best of Franzen's.
After reading The Corrections and, particularly, Freedom, I was convinced that Franzen was a force to be reckoned. All the press reviews I thought were spot on. But Crossroads seems like the work of some body else. It is plainly boring and lacking all the luster and intelligence of those previous two books.
Great novel. I couldn't put it down until I was finished. Fascinating characters that over the course of the book become more or less likable but for sure more understandable. I highly recommend Crossroads and can't wait for the follow-up to be published!
Take a pass. It’s a drab, mournful tale about a totally dysfunctional pastor’s family which has no redemptive qualities at all. Franzen drones on and on about them, as if it might get better for them, but it doesn’t. Do yourself a favour: find some other reading during a pandemic.