Franzen, Jonathan. Freedom. HarperCollins Toronto 2010. F; 02/11.
I heard about this when somebody recommended the interviews with authors which George Plimpton had published, and so learned about the Paris Review, picked up the latest number, and read the interview with the author. I hadn’t been impressed with his Corrections, but this one is a bases-loaded home run. It’s jammed with thriller fun (sex including teenage sex, dead-spot-on social commentary, mean true characters, and suspense), the next-level fun of a brilliant writer enjoying himself (my old friend “I wish I’d said that”), and then a fair bit more. It reminds me in an odd way of the movie American Beauty. Gorgeous, human, definitely but never primarily political, and philosophical with no need to apologize or explain. Overflowing with serious fun. I mean philosophical by implication, not straight out of the mouth of any character, or whispered behind the author’s hand. They are all flawed people, deeply flawed really, but I can’t help worrying about them and wanting them to be all right. Six-foot-four shallow rockstar sex machine Richard is effortlessly trenchant in conversation. Obsessively competitive phony Patty’s heart is at the emotional center of the story. As good a read as anything in recent memory for me. 9.3