Fiction Jonathan Franzen Purity

ISBN 13: 9780385681513

Purity

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9780385681513: Purity

A magnum opus for our morally complex times from the author of Freedom.
     Jonathan Franzen's huge-canvased new book is about identity, the Internet, sexual politics, and love--among countless other things. It's deeply troubling, richly moving, and hilarious--featuring an unforgettable cast of inimitable Franzenian characters who grapple mightily and rewardingly with the great issues of our time and culture.
     Purity Tyler, known to all as Pip, is an outspoken, forthright young woman struggling to make a life for herself. She sleeps in an rickety commune in Oakland. She's in love with an unavailable older man and is saddled with staggering college debt. She has a crazy mother and doesn't know who her father is. A chance encounter leads her to an internship in South America with the world-famous Sunlight Project, which uses the internet to expose government and corporate fraud and malfeasance. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic genius who grew up privileged but disaffected in the German Democratic Republic. Forced to run TSP in Bolivia because of the hostility of European nations whose misdeeds he has exposed, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn't understand. Like numerous women before her, she becomes obsessed with Andreas, and they have an intense, unsettling relationship. Eventually, he finds her work at an online magazine in Denver with Tom Aberant, who, with his life partner, Leila Helou, uses old-fashioned reporting to achieve some of the same results that TSP seems to pull out of thin air.
     That's the top story. What lies underneath is a wild tale of hidden identities, secret wealth, neurotic fidelity, sociopathy and murder. The truth of Pip's parentage lies at the center of this maelstrom, but before it is resolved Franzen takes us from the rain-drenched forests of northern California, to paranoid East Berlin before the fall of the Wall, to the paradisiacal mountain valleys of Bolivia, exposing us to the vagaries of radical politics, the problematic seductions of the internet, and the no-holds-barred war between the sexes.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of September 2015: Purity takes many forms in Franzen’s new novel—to begin with, it is the name of the book’s title character. “Pip,” as she is more commonly known, is not fond of her given name, and when we first meet her she is living in a crowded Oakland house under the burden of colossal college debt. Pip soon becomes involved in “The Sunlight Project,” a WikiLeaks-style group that seeks to uncover secrets and expose them on the web. Run by Andreas Wolf, a charismatic man of renown, who grew up in socialist East Germany, the Sunlight Project becomes the jumping-off point of discovery for Pip, as well as a starting line for Franzen to jump back in time and explore the backgrounds of his primary and secondary characters. There is a point in the book where readers may wonder where this is all headed; but the thoughtfulness and polish of Franzen’s prose should reassure that the journey isn’t in vain. It eventually becomes clear that nearly every character is chasing purity in some form—whether pursuing Pip herself or some platonic ideal—and Franzen ties up the ends in a way that is clean and satisfying but will have you thinking about Purity long after you have finished the book. --Chris Schluep

About the Author:

JONATHAN FRANZEN is the author of four novels (Freedom, The Corrections, Strong Motion, and The Twenty-Seventh City), two collections of essays (Farther Away, How to Be Alone), a personal history (The Discomfort Zone), and translations of Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening and Karl Kraus. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.

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Franzen, Jonathan
Published by Doubleday Canada 2015-09-01 (2015)
ISBN 10: 0385681518 ISBN 13: 9780385681513
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