Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul--the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter--environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man--she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz--outré rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival--still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become "a very different kind of neighbor," an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
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Amazon Best of the Month, August 2010: "The awful thing about life is this:" says Octave to the Marquis in Renoir's Rules of the Game. "Everyone has his reasons." That could be a motto for novelists as well, few more so than Jonathan Franzen, who seems less concerned with creating merely likeable characters than ones who are fully alive, in all their self-justifying complexity. Freedom is his fourth novel, and, yes, his first in nine years since The Corrections. Happy to say, it's very much a match for that great book, a wrenching, funny, and forgiving portrait of a Midwestern family (from St. Paul this time, rather than the fictional St. Jude). Patty and Walter Berglund find each other early: a pretty jock, focused on the court and a little lost off it, and a stolid budding lawyer, besotted with her and almost burdened by his integrity. They make a family and a life together, and, over time, slowly lose track of each other. Their stories align at times with Big Issues--among them mountaintop removal, war profiteering, and rock'n'roll--and in some ways can't be separated from them, but what you remember most are the characters, whom you grow to love the way families often love each other: not for their charm or goodness, but because they have their reasons, and you know them. --Tom Nissley
Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the National Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pen/Faulkner. He is also the author of the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion, and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In 1996, he was named one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.
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Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Praise forThe Corrections"Franzen's most autobiographical novel, his most engrossing (do not be surprised to find yourself trying to read it all in one sitting), and, stylistically, his most lyrical. In its gorgeous, sweeping scope and the sympathy of its tone, it owes more to Tolstoy than to Pynchon, but ultimately the novel offers up pleasures that are utterly Franzenian; a sense of exhilaration permeates The Corrections, which is, in part, the exhilaration of a writer who has broken free of his masters." --Joanna Smith Rakoff,Poets & Writers"Looms as a model for what ambitious storytelling can still say about modern life." --David Kipen,San Francisco Chronicle"Dazzling . . . Electric . . . There's something thrilling, heartening, and inspiring about seeing life revealed so accurately, so transparently--and finally, so forgivingly." --Francine Prose,O, The Oprah Magazine"Let's not mince words or pussyfoot with fancy lit-crit lingo. This is a great book. It needs to be read . . . A huge, ambitious, powerful, funny, imaginative yet realistic novel. This book is a gift." --Karen Heller,The Philadelphia Inquirer"Remarkable and possibly unprecedented: a merciless satirical look at contemporary life that's also fundamentally generous and human." --Laura Miller,Salon"A book which is funny, moving, generous, brutal and intelligent, and which poses the ultimate question, what life is for--and that is as much as anyone could ask." --Blake Morrison,The Guardian"A book as strong asThe Correctionsseems ruled only by its own self-generated aesthetic: it creates the illusion of giving a complete account of a world, and while we're under its enchantment it temporarily eclipses whatever else we may have read. But I guess that is everything we want in a novel--except, when it's rocking along, for it never to be over." --David Gates,The New York Times Book Review. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0374158460