4 February 2013

Freedom

"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen is a great novel. I finished it on Saturday night up at Khao Yai, not long after I had returned from a guided tour that involved bat caves and the eventime migration of a million bats seeking insects and fruit in the nearby forest. An amazing spectacle.

The novel was given to me by my old friend Tony just before I left my sceptred isle on the edge of mainland Europe. Franzen is a hyperactive, gifted writer with a passion for words and a consuming fascination with domestic and familial relationships. The book is set in America and details the interwoven and often dysfunctional lives of the Berglunds - Patty, Walter and Joey and Jessica. Environmental issues, the acquisition of wealth, sexuality, fantasy and the nature of honesty are just some of the themes that Franzen investigates. His lingustic embroidery is often quite breathtaking and there is an energy and anmation about his writing that is rare.

It is a novel for the times we live in but it is not an easy read. Franzen is like one of those slightly mad professors we ordinary mortals struggle to keep up with as their brains speed them effortlessly through a veritable forest of ideas - so knowlegeable and passionate are they about their particular subject zones. "Freedom" embraces so much and contains a great deal of food for thought about what is important and how we should live. In this sense, the writer follows the tradition of the best Victorian novelists. He is witty, entertaining, brutal, at times poetic and ultimately wise. Not everybody's cup of tea but for me, just like his earlier book - "The Corections", a super read...

3 comments:

  1. You had me alongside, cash in hand for a copy, until you mentioned "dysfunctional family". I prefer to read fiction that is not so close to home ... even The Hobbit had too many uncomfortable similarities for my liking.

    The Biggles Series it is then, for the foreseeable future.

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  2. How strange YP....I am just about to start The Corrections....spooky.

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  3. OWL WOOD If reading the Biggles series you must wear a leather flying helmet and googles to get you in the mood.
    LIBBY If anything "The Corrections" is a more challenging read than "Freedom" but well worth the effort.

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