Freedom. Jonathan Franzen. In the Argo catalog.
It is high time I weigh in on this ambitious novel that has been reviewed just about everywhere else. It is a novel that proves that the muses of the ancients Greeks are not dead yet. Mr. Franzen must be one of the greatest living authors we have. Freedom displays his understanding of human nature and his ability to write focused and clear prose. This book is so good that you should read this book, whoever you are.
To begin with the pacing of the book is perfect. I literally never wanted to put it down. I stopped only to sleep and eat (I hate getting mustard on books) and read the 564 pages in two and half days. This is the type of book that creates a new world, that engulfs you and does not let go until you are done. If you are worried that you are missing it by reading it too quickly, fear not, I am sure you will want to read it again.
The heart of most great books is great characters. Franzen knows that every human is capable of both good and bad and we are rarely purely good or evil. The good characters in the novel have their failings and the bad characters have their triumphs because life is complicated. You learn to cherish the characters for what they are, not what you want them to be. The people in the novel are real, I saw myself and friends that I know in some. In getting to know and understand his characters Franzen is more careful than I have seen anyone be in a long time, in fact, he reminds me of Tolstoy in his character building.
Love is a part of almost every great huge novel. Some people find it cheesy, but it is nevertheless true. Mr. Franzen does not get caught with a lame romantic comedy type of love. He does not get caught up in fake love that surpasses all all the time, instead he demonstrates a finely tuned comprehension of love and the spending of one’s life with another. Love requires a long view of life. That is about as succinct a summation I can make (I suggest you just read the book). Suffice to say the love stories are very satisfyingly real and complete.
Honestly the truth is that I cannot write well enough to explain why you should read it. Does that say enough?