Saturday, November 20, 2010

freedom's just another word...

Finally finished Franzen's Freedom. It took me six weeks to read it in dribs and drabs because I've been so crazy with work and just life itself. My feeling about the book is that it's very good, but it's premature to call it great or to say whether it heralds the voice of my generation. There were definitely parts of the novel that dragged in the same way that parts of The Corrections dragged, but Franzen has a great ear and eye for the world we live in today. I like the way the novel traces a historical period of about 35 years by focussing on the life of one family's odyssey, but it perhaps lacks the philosophical depth one finds in other authors who use the same storytelling device, like Tolstoy, or Mann, or Flaubert. I suppose it's ridiculously unfair to take an author to task because he's not as brilliant as Tolstoy. In any case, as I mentioned, it's too early to know the real impact and significance of Freedom. That it's beautifully written with lovingly drawn characters is not in question. But does it really have anything of sustained importance to say? Ask me again in 15 years time...

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