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 listened to 2/3 of this book, and wonder why I even bothered to keep listening. It was so boring, and the language got worse and worse, and I got so sick of these characters. I never did get a plot to the book. The characters were boring and whining and I decided I couldn't finish--which I have never done with an audiobook.
I have listened to many books on audio and have never felt the need to write a review before, but this book was just awful. I made it through the first two parts (just) and cannot press play to start the third. So many words, the women in the story sad, pathetic and outright mean, the men selfish and thoughtless. Where did you go wrong Jonathan Franzen? Take a look at Tinkers before you start your next book, less is almost always more and shows the skill of an author.
Bloated and boring.
While I fully give Franzen his props for generally being a fantastic writer, the characters in this book made me want to end all contact with humanity. I don't mean to "pick", but Walter's continuous diatribe against American consumerism resulted in me wanting to punch him in the face......if he were real. I was about 2/3 of the way through the book before I had that icky feeling that the book itself was a big "middle finger" to the general American populous. Ever since Franzen's beef with Oprah over "The Corrections", I've had a sneaking suspicion that he generally loathes the readers who buy his books. "Freedom" effectively confirmed that, and by the end of the novel, I couldn't care less what happened to Walter, Patty and Joey. I really just wanted to buy an SUV and a pack of Chiclets.
I've tried again & again to listen to this book (mostly because my "reading" friends recommended it) but I find the narrator's sarcastic, sing-songy tone absolutely unbearable. I had a solid, three hour block of alone-driving time today, plugged in (I'm about a third of the way through), and, after less than five minutes, switched to channel surfing the radio. I'm not usually a quitter, but I give up.
While it is a true reflection of American upper middle class psyche of the last 30 years, it is an arduous
read. Chapters and chapters of introspective self indulgence. The reader, David Le Doux was wonderful and made it all bearable.
When I started listening, and then listened some more, I couldn't shake the fact that I felt that instead of watching an afternoon soap show I was listening to one. Was it well written, yes. Were the characters interesting, yes. However, one cannot liken this, or categorize this, as a Classic. Could I see these characters in my friends and family, yes. I've been an audible customer for years and this book was not worth my time or money. Meaning, I didn't sit in my car waiting for a chapter to end or, at the end of the book said "that was great". I was actually glad when it ended.
I don't know what all the hype was about..... I can only read about selfish characters so long. The author pretends to know how a woman thinks... but he does a poor job
EveLynn in Wisconsin
I was a bit disappointed. It was an okay way to pass a long road trip. Dysfunctional characters caught up in the normality of life. I was a bit bored at times.
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