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Freedom Paperback – 3 March 2011
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|Paperback, 3 March 2011||
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- Publisher : Fourth Estate (3 March 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 570 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0007318529
- ISBN-13 : 978-0007318520
- Dimensions : 15.3 x 3.1 x 23.4 cm
- Customer Reviews:
'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 it's 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
'Undoubtedly a great novel about America. Rarely has the land of the free been scrutinised with such a sharp but loving eye' Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
'It had me absolutely hooked' Mark Watson, Observer, 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
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.
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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.
What Franzen is so good at is family relations and for me, a female, he gives a wondrous look into the masculine mind and sexual drive. Anne Tyler, who insists on writing novels from the male point of view should read this book closely.
I found both the sex-crazed Richard and the anal retentive Walter more convincing than the heroine, Patty, whose later persona as a mixed up mother and wife does not follow well from her teenage years as an outstanding athlete.
Still, Jonathan is a formidable writer and I think deserves all the accolades.
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?