I’m finally reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, and it’s good. It’s really good. It’s so good I want to ration it, but then again, another good thing about it is that it’s a really long book, so I don’t even have to.
One thing particularly impresses me, not about his writing as such but about his project. I don’t know any other writer that so reliably hits the nail on the head in describing the inner and outer conflicts that we all, no doubt, experience, but which few of us know how to define. He did the exact same thing, to devastating effect for anyone who had the least experience of being part of a family, in The Corrections. The way you both hate and love your friends, the way you can both patronize and envy your kids, the way you want to be good but keep doing bad things – Jonathan Franzen is appallingly accurate in his descriptions of these conflicts, so that you both recognise the emotions, and are able to enjoy the sense of recognition.
I find it makes me want to ask him questions. I want to ask him how I can NOT be like the people in his books. How to sort through my emotions for those who are close to me? How to avoid acting on desires I know are beneath me? How to know, truly know, my own mind? How, in short, to live? Continue reading