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All five members of the Lambert family get their due, as everybody's lives swirl out of control. Paterfamilias Alfred is slipping into dementia, even as one of his inventions inspires a pharmaceutical giant to revolutionize treatment of his disease. His stubborn wife, Enid, specializes in denial; so do their kids, each in an idiosyncratic way. Their hepcat son, Chip, lost a college sinecure by seducing a student, and his new career as a screenwriter is in peril. Chip's sister, Denise, is a chic chef perpetually in hot water, romantically speaking; banker brother Gary wonders if his stifling marriage is driving him nuts. We inhabit these troubled minds in turn, sinking into sorrow punctuated by laughter, reveling in Franzen's satirical eye:
Gary in recent years had observed, with plate tectonically cumulative anxiety, that population was continuing to flow out of the Midwest and toward the cooler coasts.... Gary wished that all further migration [could] be banned and all Midwesterners encouraged to revert to eating pasty foods and wearing dowdy clothes and playing board games, in order that a strategic national reserve of cluelessness might be maintained, a wilderness of taste which would enable people of privilege, like himself, to feel extremely civilized in perpetuity.Franzen is funny and on the money. This book puts him on the literary map. --Tim Appelo
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
So glad I read this years after the hype/Oprah controversy. Brilliant novel, tragic and beautiful.Published 3 days ago by Miss B.
The book was long, to long and sometime lost my attention. Denise was my favoriate charater in the book and had the most interesting life. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Sally L. Christensen
I think Freedom is a better novel. At times, it was difficult to follow but over all a good book.Published 12 days ago by Donald Green
I've never written a review on amazon before but I felt compelled to do so for this book because I was so appalled by how poorly it was reviewed here. I loved this book. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Chris Conway
Sometimes a bit close to home....I found myself and my family over and over in this book. To see this erudite expression, forthright and true makes it a bit easier to deal with.Published 29 days ago by Katherine Fern
Overrated. Not crazy about the writing, which I find pretentious and vulgar. I don't get why so many people consider him a brilliant stylist. He's not. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Daniel B. Diaz de la Rocha
I am shocked to see this book with an average rating of three stars. I loved it. But then...I am a baby boomer.Published 1 month ago by Thisni Caza
the book rambles a lot with big words and seems like some could be edited out but all in all it is a greatly realistic story of the directions our marriages, children and finally... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karen Markley