Monday, April 18, 2011


I'm going to try to do a post every Monday.  My success at this, of course, depends on my childrens' willingness to not need me long enough for me to do the post.  Here's hoping.

I decided to do this post on Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I'm not usually a fan of Oprah's picks, but the subject matter of this one was interesting to me, so I checked it out (literally, from my local library). 

Here's what I thought: bleak, bleak, bleak.  The writing was good and his ability to capture certain emotional states of being is phenomenal, but those emotional states of being ranged from sad to suicidal.  I'm not a person that needs everything sunshine and roses, but from the state of the world to the state of its characters this book left me feeling hopeless. The characters were so selfish and self-pitying I found it hard to like any of them. I could only take the book in small doses.  If I read more than ten or so pages at a time I found myself getting sucked into the oozing pool of self-pity and despair and hopelessness.  Seriously I felt like I needed to fortify myself with an antidepressant or two before opening the book.

The book ends with a few small rays of hope but after the rest of it I felt like they were either not enough or too much.  Not enough because in no way did they compensate for what he put his characters (and the reader) through in the previous hundreds of pages.  Too much because after all the hopelessness it almost felt to me like his editor said, 'too much sad. You need to brighten it up a bit', so he did and it wasn't believable. He should have just stuck with the bleak.

He must have done something right though because the book has been hanging out in my brain matter since I finished it on Thursday.  Not really in a good way though.  I find myself wishing I could open up my head and scrub out the scum of sadness the book left in there. So yeah, that's my opinion on Oprah's pick.  I probably won't read another one, since the last one I read had much the same effect.

I'm sure many of you read it long before me, but if you can remember I'd be interested in hearing what you thought of it.


Old Kitty said...

Oh Angie Paxton!! I've not read it but now I really really really want to! :-)

wow!! Thank you for your honest review! Take care

Sophia Richardson said...

I posted a review of Freedom when I read it in February but the short version is it was kind of an arduous downer for large portions. Clearly I am not cut out for such high literary work.
- Sophia.

D U Okonkwo said...

Hmm, I think for dark literary works there needs to be some elements of lighter prose and situations put in. It can be very draining for the reader (and I imagine the writer) to be on such a low for such a long time.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks for the review and now I know I definitely will not read it. I have enough bleakness in my own life. I don't need the heartbreak.

Jo Schaffer said...

Most of the time I don't want to read a total downer either.
I don't want to catch the negative energy. (=

Jaydee Morgan said...

I haven't read it but it doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy.

Wanton Redhead Writing said...

I hope they keep it out of reach of the emo kids, they don't need encouragement to go cut somethin.

Will definitely not read it. I read Precious and nearly puked.