From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a darkly comedic novel about family.
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul - the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter - environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man - she was doing her small part to build a better world. But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz - outré rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival - still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. 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.
©2010 Jonathan Franzen (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
"The Great American Novel." (Esquire)
"It’s refreshing to see a novelist who wants to engage the questions of our time in the tradition of 20th-century greats like John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis . . . [This] is a book you’ll still be thinking about long after you’ve finished reading it." (Patrick Condon, Associated Press)
“Writing in prose that is at once visceral and lapidary, Mr. Franzen shows us how his characters strive to navigate a world of technological gadgetry and ever-shifting mores, how they struggle to balance the equation between their expectations of life and dull reality, their political ideals and mercenary personal urges. He proves himself as adept at adolescent comedy as he is at grown-up tragedy; as skilled at holding a mirror to the world his people inhabit day by dreary day as he is at limning their messy inner lives . . . Mr. Franzen has written his most deeply felt novel yet—a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
I couldn't stop listening to it. Great purchase for a long drive or for working out. I am curious to know, though, why the New York Times book review called Franzen a genius. It's true that it gives life to recent events and to characters we are familiar with-- and yet, I left the book feeling empty.
This is the latest in a relentlessly tiresome genre -- no plot, just people-watching, and self-absorbed bores to boot! Following the activities of pathetic people does not a good journey make. Unless you're interested in watching a bore discover how shallow she really is, skip this, and in my opinion, skip all the authors who think that whipping back and forth from the perspective of one character to another is the clever new norm. It's not new anymore; in fact, it's passe, or should be.
Although I heard the entire book and did find many part interesting I think I missed the point of the book - assuming there was one. I don't think I would recommend this to any of my friends unless they were desperate for an audible.
Oh how I hated the characters. I kept listening hoping for a likable soul or an epiphany for one of them. One of my book club members wanted to read this for our club...an emphatic NO from me
I picked this book to listen to on a cross country flight. I bought the book due to numerous positive reviews. I was about halfway through this book at the end of the flight and could not bear the thought of continuing any further. I found not a single character to be interesting or engaging. I kept waiting to discover a story or plot but never did. It seems to be a series of one conversation after another by people that are of no interest to me. I understand that the book has a great ending and that many things come together at the end. I could not bring myself to spend any more time on this book to see if that was true. I found another book for the return flight and am so glad I did.
Only reason I keep listening is that I paid good money for it. I'm ashamed of myself every time I turn it on.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen is more like a conversational piece than a stand alone read. In order to fully understand what is going on, this book needs to be read in a group setting. It's too hard to get through this book without discussing with others about their opinions. After talking to my friend, and listening to her observation, I started piecing the different characters and saw how the family was starting to form as what they are now. Very much like a TV reality show, the Berglunds are a dysfunctional bunch.
Each characters have their own side project going on with no real central plot to steer the reader. It is just a whole a lot of nothing, much like real life. At the end, I started to enjoy "Freedom" because most of our lives are pretty much the same as this book. There are only a few high points in our lives and the rest is dull and routine. If it wasn't for my friend's perspective, I would probably not had liked this one, but this book was meant for a book club to decipher.
I was not that crazy about this story line, characters or length of this novel, yet I could not stop listening. Franzen writes beautifully. Every word artfully selected in a succinct non-flowery manner that I loved. These characters could describe any dysfunctional Millennial American family, and I do believe this will become a classic cultural period reference in years to come. Franzen captures the era's budding technology, 9/11, entitled youth and dysfunctional familial traits that capture the essence of many current day relationships we all know . For me, the political and nature conservancy issues were a bit overdone. I found myself hoping for more drama in the story line, but suppose the lack thereof was the point. Love this writer!
The characters and their choices, the narrator's voice
I later heard this author speak and that confirmed that I would not be interested in any more of his work.
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