Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The stylish specs of the hysterical realists. Dave Eggers, grow a pair (of trendy glasses).

Dear Reader,
I did it. I finished Freedom on a delayed train last night. As I closed this year's most-read book, my only conscious impression was to hope someone in the packed car would hear the thump with which I conspicuously closed the back cover and strike up a convo about it. It is to its credit that ever since, all I've wanted is to make like Patty and gossip about it. After reading this "not short" book about lives, (whose plot, which I admittedly skimmed in favor of dirt on the characters, seemed nonetheless holey), all I wanted to know was, who did you like? Who do you hate? Who was in the right? But not in an ethical, important, or even a literary way, just in the way we want to know about our acquaintances or those celebs we feel we already know. Maybe reading countless reviews, watching interviews with the author, and attending live readings, all of which I have done for this particular book, does not a New Critical reading make. I am incapable of judging it in an English-classy way. Instead I want to play Franzen at his own game and indulge the neighborly gossip.

Franzen himself is super unlikeable, and I guess some people like that about him. A potentially misanthropic bird-watcher, he has made the double mistake of offending Oprah and then sucking up to her. He came off as arrogant at the live reading Ellis an I attended. But, for the defense, Franzen also disclosed at said reading that he himself had experienced the "worst thing that happens in the book." Hm. Let's call it this week's "blind item."


  1. You know what I was surprised about? I felt sort of 'meh' about Joey. Honestly, I was so shocked at the reading when Franzen mentioned the Joey chapters "Wrote -does anyone have their CELL PHONE on for GODS sakes - themselves". Joey felt underdeveloped for me compared to say Gary and Chip from the corrections. Thoughts?

  2. Yes. I found Joey to be a little one-note, though he was wayyy more believable than, say, Richard. I just don't see someone being cool and witty, yet holding every conversation solely in eye-rolls, insults, and ideological generalizations. I mean, I know he's a rock star but, COME ON.

  3. Riighht. I know what you mean. But I guess maybe it didn't bother me so much because you're not forced to 'see' things from his perspective as much. Your seeing Richard through Patty and Walter and then even, kind of, Jessica. People stereotype this type of 'emotional fuckwit' dude all the time just like Franzen's characters do?

  4. Walter was so repressed, I kept expecting him to blow something up and was bitterly disappointed that all this extreme detail into the lives of people we don't care about doesn't go anywhere. Where was his editor for the first 400 pages??