title: Freedom [support an independent bookseller and purchase from Strand]
author: Jonathan Franzen
genre: literary fiction
source: New York Public Library
I’ve been promising a review of Freedom for the past few weeks and have been negligent in my posting. It was over 500 pages! That shit takes a while 😉
As I’ve previously mentioned, I love me some Franzen, but I was most familiar with his short stories and nonfiction, and this was my first time reading one of his novels. It did not disappoint.
In the ongoing debate about the future of/the possible death of the great American novel, one thing many agree on is the difficulty of creating characters and plot that are concurrently timeless and relevant. I’m sure I have nothing to add to that debate that would be original or poignant, but that notion kept popping into my head as I read. I’m sure Franzen has weighed in, and I’d be interested to hear what he said. In terms of Freedom, Franzen keeps the plot and characters incredibly current, but there’s a universal quality to the relationships he develops. Timeless? No. The next great American novel? Probably not. But incredibly generous and intelligent, which are qualities worth revisiting for years to come.
Rubric rating: 9. Love me some Franzen.