funny, annoying, sad
I'm 10 years late to the party but will always be glad I came. This story creates a scenario where the pressures of adult life are squeezed by the reponsibility of aging parents . . . and poor/selfish choices.
The characters are infuriatingly flawed at times but it adds to their realism. At times I hated them and was shocked by their selfishness, but who is to say that a close review of our own lives wouldn't evoke similar annoyance or disgust in others. We are all flawed and these characters are too.
The reader's voicing of the declining Alfred was spot on.
I'm off to explore more Franzen.
I'm usually pretty easy to please when it comes to audio books, but this one I gave up on after three hours. The characters were just overwhelmingly unpleasant. I get what the author was going for, but I prefer to read/listen to stories where I care about the characters at least a little.
I stayed with it as long as I did because I hoped there would be some glimmer of hope for the characters. I kept thinking that one of the characters had to have some redeeming qualities. When I realized that it would never happen, I just couldn't bring myself to waste anymore time on the book. I loved "Freedom", but this is the second disappointing book in a row from Franzen.
I have nothing to offer anyone except my own confusion.
Yes, as its' one of the single greatest novels ever written. The story captivates from beginning to end, brings a variety of timely social issues to the table and tells a great story around the discussion of those issues.
Chip's arrival at the home for Christmas, which seemed predictable but at the same time the author gave no clue that it would actually happen ... or Alfred's dementia induced talking feces..
His voice actually bothered me at first, or at least for the first few minutes of the listen. As you get involved with the characters of the novel what at first listen seems like the voice of an elderly man becomes capable of giving each character a completely distinct voice, and ultimately ends up in a great listening experience.
Neither, but there were numerous moments when Gary and Chip were placed into situations I, like many men, had experienced in real life.
I was not able to finish this book, bailing out after about 15 hours of putting up with the grim and hapless characters. But here's the thing. The writing is so good that I give the book five stars. I expect some day I will return to the book just to wallow in the words. Others have suggested that the abridged version would be preferable for this book, and I can understand why someone would write that.
Even three quarters of the way through this book, I was still feeling somewhat ambivalent about it. I found several of the characters much too cliche: Enid as the overbearing and complaining mother, Alfred as the inept and remote father, Chip as the English Professor son who lost his job because he slept with his student, etc. It all just seems so unoriginal. At the same time, Franzen manages to create some fun and generates a comic (if conventional) view of the boringness of the U.S. Midwest.
I like the off-the-wall antics that each of the family members have, but how they each justify their own weirdness and mistakes in the end