Last year I listened to the audiobook version of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and reviewed it in this blog, so I figured that I would follow it up with Franzen’s fourth and latest novel, Freedom. While Freedom held my interest all the way to the end, it was definitely not up to the quality of the previous book, IMHO. The best thing about this novel is its convincing portrayal of a dysfunctional midwestern family. The variety of characters can certainly hold the reader’s attention, as can a few of the characters on the periphery of the family. In particular, Franzen does such a convincing job of portraying New York Jews that it almost makes one think the author is one of them, instead of being the midwestern Protestant that he in fact is. He also has an interesting range of political views among his characters. But his dialog is unconvincing — do people really talk like that? — and I am disturbed by his obvious antipathy to cats. At first I thought it was just a character’s antipathy, but it became clear that it is the author’s voice speaking.

Categories: Books