Monday, December 6, 2010
FREEDOM is Overrated
The book Freedom that is. The one by Jonathan Franzen that had tremendous media coverage this fall. Saying it was over-promoted rather than overrated is probably more accurate. The usual suspects like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Oprah promoted Freedom, but also GQ, Esquire, four periodicals in the UK and newspapers in Kansas City, Portland, Minneapolis and Cleveland. And this is far from an exhaustive list.
The content of the reviews varied but many used the term "Great American Novel." That's a tough phrase to ignore. Freedom went on my reading list.
I'm two-thirds done with the novel and I'm feeling uncomfortable with it. Not with the style or the prose, but the characters and the social commentary. I don't even care how it ends. Though reviewers have hinted at a surprise ending. I just want to discuss it with fellow readers. Why did this book get so much attention? Will it be read in future generations? Are comparisons to Tolstoy and David Foster Wallace accurate? And what about those sex scenes?
Read it and let's talk. By the way, Freedom was shortlisted for the tongue-in-cheek "Bad Sex in Literature" award distributed by Britain's Literary Review magazine. This year's prize went to Alastair Campbell for his novel Maya. Read more on BBC News.
For a good selection of reviews - go to Bookmarks Magazine