Jonathan Franzen - Freedom


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I was reading "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen, I kept thinking of the dream of the "great American novel" and of other family sagas. I'm always amazed when an author can create so many intertwining characters (and character traits) and plot points that all seem to resonate with each other in a perfect harmony of cause and effect.

His writing is so detailed and knowledgeable that at times it feels like a true account of a real family. Or is he just blinding us with dropping factual details that don't actually fit correctly? Having the intellectual, sullen sister listen to Belle and Sebastian seems like a great and well-informed choice. But then when she turns up the volume to drown out her brother and girlfriend in the room next-door, doesn't it seem that the author picked the wrong "hip in the 90s band"? Is he just an author doing surface fact-finding but misses the nuances?

Those kinds of questions in the end didn't really matter to me. In such a grand sweeping story that covers so much ground in exploring and describing psychology, sociology, culture, sex, human interaction, environmental concerns, preservation, the war in Iraq, life of trust fund babies, down-and-out rock stars, teenage fanzine reporters, gentrifying moms, passionate love affairs... and all that over the span of several decades (and from varying perspectives), there is enough to make you contemplate, to entertain you and to inspire you - there's no real need to wonder if Jessica should have listened to Rage Against The Machine instead. The choice of the Bright Eyes / Conor Obers concert was definitely right on - and the contemplations during the show hit a little close to home.

Reading "Freedom" makes me want to read "The Corrections" by Franzen all over again.