Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Finally Free From Freedom

Why My Reading Time Is Scattered
Photo by Amy Brandon

"All the real things, the authentic things, the honest things are dying off.  Intellectually and culturally, we just bounce around like random billiard balls, reacting to the latest random stimuli."
 Walter Berglund in Jonathan Franzen's Freedom

After two months of back and forth reading, I finally finished Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.   I struggle with books like these because it seems like I spend most of my life needing an escape from reality, rather than an inundation of it. I'm not arguing the brillance of Jonathan Franzen, but I'm not sure passively and reactively shedding light on the ills of our society is necessarily the most productive way to improve it.  Almost every aspect of this book microscopically picks apart the general malaise and some of the more specific sicknesses of the modern American family.  If you're looking for an escape hatch in your reading, don't pick up this one. 

Last week, I attempted to read Swamplandia by Karen Russell.  It became one of the few books I did not finish.  I could find no redeeming qualities to compel me to waste any more time that a few days on it. 

This week, I've started Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed and The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner.  We'll see if I have any better luck with these.


thecuecard said...

Franzen seems pretty negative which maybe I could do without at the moment. Thx for the word on it.

Amy said...

Definitely not a feel-good book!

Vintage Reading said...

Ah well, sometimes it take a while to get back on an enjoyable reading path. I enjoyed The Corrections but have no particular desire to read Freedom.

Jaimie said...

Hi Amy,
I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Come see at


Darlene @ Lost in Literature said...

Hey! Just saw this when browsing your review list.

I recently finished listening to Freedom. It took me a while too, mainly because I only listened when I was in the car alone, (rarely), and I listened a few times at home.

I've been hoping to find someone to talk about it with because none of my friends have read it and it definitely would not fly with my book club.

I have a handful of thoughts.

1. Yep. A good dose of reality.
2. Not a happy book but I did enjoy getting caught up with the characters. I though he did a fabulous job with characterization.
3. The language was seriously like an assault. I know people roll their eyes when I bring that up but it was over the top in frequency. I considered that if I wrote a review on it I would start it off with..."Lovers of the 'F' word will enjoy this one.":)
4.) I watched the Oprah book club episode of this one. It was a good one. I sadly feel like I was the only person who sympathized with Patty. Not that I loved everything she did. She messed up, but I really felt like I understood her. And liked her, especially early on.

Whew, feels good to put all that out there.:)

Amy said...

Hi Darlene! I'll have to go back and look over the book this weekend to see if I can remember enough to respond to your points. I just remember feeling like I was struggling to get through it, but I don't remember exactly why. Have you read anything else by Franzen?

Darlene said...

No, I haven't. I may read The Corrections sometime but it will be a while. I'm a slow reader so I try to space out my chunky books.

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