479 of 552 people found the following review helpful
Cycles of Excitement and Tedium,
This review is from: Freedom: A Novel (Hardcover)
Excellent writing when dealing with the painfully intimate and intricate details of adolescence, marriage, childrearing, infidelity and romantic yearnings. In fact, it approaches the true-to-life fictional style used so successfully by Tom Wolfe in the "Bonfire of the Vanities," and "A Man in Full."
Yet, this saga ominously hits a brick wall when it becomes enmeshed with any number of environomental, social and political issues (incluing mining and overpopulation) that seem to go on for far too long and which consume an excessive amount of time and space. Very "preachy", didactic and repetitive if you will.
As a result, we are confronted with a lengthy novel that is only partially rewarding. It is constucted on cycles of excitement and tedium which make for an erratic reading experience. You really have to invest a good deal of time and effort searching for the literary nuggets that make the effort worthwhile in the end.
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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 7, 2010 8:46:59 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 12, 2011 11:18:52 PM PDT]
Posted on Sep 7, 2010 1:11:55 PM PDT
I agree you with you on the "tedium". I find this book negative and critical, and very difficult to "get through".
Posted on Sep 10, 2010 3:27:16 PM PDT
D. Solov says:
Have to agree. It took me awhile to get into it, but then parts of it had me burning through the pages as I got to know the characters and watch them interact. But then the author would go into uber-detail on the mining, overpopulation issues and lose his momentum.
Posted on Sep 14, 2010 7:26:06 AM PDT
Sue H. Erwin says:
It is a "one damn thing after another" book and becomes a "the same damn thing after another". Do people really change? Maybe. And who wants to wait around to find out? If you can stick it out long enough to see their final situation, good luck to you.
Posted on Sep 15, 2010 8:32:29 AM PDT
I agree. I just finished the book and I really can't recommend it. It's clearly well-written, but I kept wondering why a writer of such talent would waste his time on an unbelieveably long-winded and boring soap opera kind of story. I didn't care about any of the characters, and I kept reading hoping I would at some point come around. I never did. I agree there are some real literary nuggets lodged within the 600 pages, but I for one didn't find it was really worth the effort to find them.
Posted on Sep 15, 2010 9:53:37 AM PDT
"It is constucted on cycles of excitement and tedium which make for an erratic reading experience." Just like real life, I suppose. Thanks for your review.
Posted on Sep 17, 2010 9:30:06 AM PDT
Posted on Sep 18, 2010 2:54:20 PM PDT
Charles Morgan says:
i guess this is as good a place as any to say, I found Freedom light years more fun to read than Tom Wolfe! However, I guess the comparison is instructive.
Posted on Sep 18, 2010 3:46:17 PM PDT
N. Chard says:
It's funny - Franzen alludes to War and Peace several times in the narrative and speaks of getting bogged down in the "military parts"...it seems his book has repeated that pattern!
Posted on Sep 19, 2010 11:31:57 PM PDT
I cosign on this completely. While the Berglunds are an engaging family and Walter a worthy protagonist, the tangents on social and political issues, which tried so hard and failed to be completely relevant for me, became ultimately, tiresome.
The social and political references were so tedious I wondered if I just wasn't well read enough to get them, or if the author was just line dropping without fully fleshing out the reason for the references. Walter's drug fueled diatribe, left me feeling flat. It's not enough to simply reference major events if you don't add to the understanding of them.
I kept thinking further exploration of Joey and how he became Republican in a house full of liberals would be enlightening. Patty's "unluckiness" as her parents describe it, exemplifies the lack of visceral limbic reaction that seems to crystalize the difference between the thoughtful Obama response and the immediate reaction characterized by the Bush years. In the face of such a traumatic event for a child, it's clear the Bush response was more emotionally gratifying. Joey's affinity with Alpha males, and ultimate submission to the value of his dad's more thoughtful, if not "wussy" approach, was a real point of clarity in the novel.
I'm actually more interested in why Franzen deigns to visit Oprah this time around, than to discuss the novel.