TitleWave: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom

Sep 16, 2010

“What about those cloth diapers? Worth the bother? And was it true that you could still get milk delivered in glass bottles? Were the Boy Scouts OK politically? Was bulgur really necessary? Where to recycle batteries? How to respond when a poor person of color accused you of destroying her neighborhood? Was it true that the glaze of old Fiestaware contained dangerous amounts of lead? How elaborate did a kitchen water filter actually need to be? Did your Volvo 240 sometimes not go into overdrive when you pushed the overdrive button? Was it better to offer panhandlers food, or nothing? Was it possible to raise unprecedentedly confident, happy, brilliant kids while working full-time?”

Those are some of the questions Jonathan Franzen, author of <i>The Corrections</i>, raises in his new, widely praised novel <i>Freedom</i>, a portrait of the contemporary white, middle-American family over the course of generations and an examination of life in a post-9/11 world. It’s been hard to miss the buzz around <i>Freedom</i>, which has unofficially become the next Great American Novel–even President Obama request an advanced copy–and landed Franzen on the cover of TIME magazine, but Patt manages to ask some unasked and perhaps unanswerable questions.

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