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“A masterpiece of American fiction”
Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review
A novel from the author of The Corrections.
This is the updated version of the text.
This is the story of the Berglunds, their son Joey, their daughter Jessica and their friend Richard Katz. It is about how we use and abuse our freedom; about the beginning and ending of love; teenage lust; the unexpectedness of adult life; why we compete with our friends; how we betray those closest to us; and why things almost never work out as they ‘should’. It is a story about the human heart, and what it leads us to do to ourselves and each other.
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's intensely realized characters, as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
'Head and shoulders above any other book this year: moving, funny and unexpectedly beautiful. I missed it when it was over' Sam Mendes, Observer, Books of the Year
'A cat's cradle of family life, and if the measure of a good book is its afterburn, ‘Freedom’ is a great book' Kirsty Wark Observer, Books of the Year
'I loved ‘Freedom’. His acute observations of emotional faultlines, his dialogue and above all his wry humour are delightful' Antony Beevor, Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year
'Franzen pulls off the extraordinary feat of making the lives of his characters more real to you than your own' David Hare, Guardian, Books of the Year
'No question about it: ‘Freedom’ swept everything before it in intricately observed, humane, unprejudiced armfuls. There was no novel to touch it in 2010' Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
'By the end of ‘Freedom’ you may feel you understand its protagonists better than you know anyone in the world around you' Nicholas Hytner, Evening Standard, Books of the Year
'The novel of the year. Its portrait of a marriage, luminously and wittily drawn against a backdrop of modern America, is as good as literature gets' Sarah Sands, New Statesman, Books of the Year--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
Jonathan Franzen’s work includes four novels (The Twenty-Seventh City, Strong Motion, The Corrections, Freedom), two collections of essays (Farther Away, How To Be Alone), a memoir (The Discomfort Zone), and, most recently, The Kraus Project. He is recognised as one of the best American writers of our age and has won many awards. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B0044DE906
- Publisher : Fourth Estate (23 September 2010)
- Language : English
- File size : 2338 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 610 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 105,322 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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I was, though, utterly mesmerised by the writing - the prose, and the storytelling, of course, but most of all the constantly surprising and interesting riffs on all sorts of subthemes - in politics, economics, environmentalism, family life, community life, etc. I liked so many of them, and loved the one on cats.
I mentionded Dickens, and I suppose the most surprising thing about this book is how old fashioned it really is and how modern it really feels. In this last regard, his treatment of sex is exemplary. Its insistent and troubling nature is there for all to see (and feel!).All its variations are graphically allowed their spot in the limelight (at least the heterosexual ones - the strong, male loves are convncingly matey, and certainly no basis for a life), but it is surrounded by neither moralising mystery nor sub-teen prurience or porn. There is also no feeling of having a writerly sex interlude, it is all part of the grand story. Is that what modern sex is?
It would be easy to dislike Patty but I didn't. She's an innocent who, when she does bad things, does them not out of malice but almost accidentally. Her one great gift, as a basketball player, is taken from her by injury. Mild-mannered Walter, meanwhile, with his endless concerns for the environment and zero-population growth, matures into a man nearly burned alive by anger.
At first I found the prose style annoying, with its very long, rambling, unstructured sentences (I found one that went on for two pages), but I got used to it after a while and it ceased to bother me. The chapters are also long, each centred on one member of the small group of main characters, some of them a sort of autobiography written by Patty, which will come back to bite her in the end.
This is a profoundly sad book: people are unhappy; government is corrupt; big business amoral and self-seeking. The fact that it manages to end on a note of hope is a small blessing. Franzen's message may be the same as Forster's in Howard's End -- that what matters is personal relations and being kind to each other.
But you don't read it for the plot. You read it for the depth of its commentary on everyday life. Other reviewers here have compared Franzen here with Updike and Tolstoy, but for me it was more like Richard Yates and Revolutionary Road. It was about the disappointments and road-blocks we face in our everyday choices - about the kind of work that we choose to do, about the choices of life partner we make and the compromises we let ourselves into in making those choices. So, none of us is free. Yet we persuade ourselves that we are making the right choices - we delude ourselves that we have done it right. So, Walter the environmentalist gets into bed with big oil persuading himself with his potty Green plan that it is best for a little bird, but the loss of a mountain compared to the tiny gain for the bird is obvious to everyone except Walter and his beautiful assistant - whom he also gets into bed with, leaving his wife Patty to explore her own compromise in having married Walter and not having gone with the much sexier Richard, all of those years ago. And when she does eventually go with Richard, it all falls apart of course. Moral: they would have been better staying with their compromises; better not pretending to themselves that something better - something more unequivocally 'them' - was tantalisingly within reach.
Like the other reviewers I was surprised ('disappointed' would be too strong a word) by the way that Franzen didn't manage to change the style and register of Patty's writing from his own, apart from the occasional rather gross clue (such as Patty's use of scare quotes). And (having the uncorrected version) I was surprised that he thought Cypress was a place. But, hey, it shows he is human and we can surely celebrate.
Probably the best novel I've ever read (apart from The Corrections).