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I read this author on impulse, as I had heard that he had been described as a 'great' American writer. May be I selected the wrong book to determine whether he is or isn't a great writer, but I found him pretentious, unfocused and overly verbose. I do not consider it good writing, to describe something in a way that the reader needs to be constantly referring to a dictionary, in order to understand it. The book was erratic and skipped from one uninteresting subject to another, without any real understanding of what he was trying to achieve. It seemed like a scrapbook of memories, that he thought the reader might be interested in. I was not. The book depicted him as spoiled, wealthy with a puerile sense of humour. A writer, I guess so but, Great, surely not.
I started this book, but must admit that I could not finish it. I found it to be mundane and not at all very revealing of the personalities of the characters involved. I must also say that I found it terribly biased toward the "born again Christian" outlook on life. By the time I shut down my Kindle and left this piece of tripe for good, I had the attitude of "Who cares whether Mr. Franzen fits into his little Christian click or not." Better he gets a broader view of American life.
It took me a very long time to get through this short read. I normally love Franzen, but found this so boring and hard to get through, especially the end. I agree with another reviewer that the bird-watching chapter is too much, and there really was no ending. I skimmed the last 20 pages because I couldn't stand it.