If this book is a harbinger for the rest of my reading experiences in 2011, it will definitely be an interesting, albeit slightly annoying year.
I tend to read books fast – flipping through the pages at a breakneck speed so I can move on to the next one – but Freedom made me slow down to appreciate Jonathan Franzen’s beautiful, ingenious prose. He possesses a style of writing I have never had the pleasure to read before; it’s poetic yet concise, and the narrative is cunning and intelligent. There were long, vast passages where I felt as if I was being whisked away into a world of sarcastic, sly, and somewhat manipulative characters – basking in brilliance, I suppose.
There were a few vexing parts of the book that detracted from its overall excellence. Almost all of the characters were irksome and irritating; I understand that Franzen’s purpose (which he achieved magnificently) was to analyze every aspect of each character, but it would have been nice if he stuck in a few more redeeming qualities.
Also, there were some strange sections involving poop… I won’t go into detail there, but I read one of the mentioned sections while eating out with my family. It’s always slightly awkward when you’re reading something uncomfortable when surrounded by family, especially when you’re eating with them. Cough.
Still, Freedom is a winner that combines several elements of liberty into one whopping book. It details the personal story of a family undergoing stressful situations, political tension between the two most prominent parties, a campaign against overpopulation, and a man who fights for the protection of a harmless bird.
Through reading this book, I have learned that freedom does not necessarily guarantee happiness. It does not guarantee a successful marriage, either.