Reviewing Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” with Wit

Every­where you turn, there’s a review of Jonathan Franzen’s new nov­el, Free­dom. Most appear in print, and they’re but­toned down. Not this one. It’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. The video above fea­tures Ron Charles, The Wash­ing­ton Post’s fic­tion crit­ic, tak­ing his own approach.

Speak­ing of Franzen and book reviews: Franzen appeared on San Fran­cis­co radio ear­li­er this week. And the con­ver­sa­tion was mov­ing along quite smooth­ly until Franzen was asked about Michiko Kaku­tani, The New York Times book crit­ic. That’s when the knives came out. You can catch the com­ments below at the 33:20 mark…

[gplay­er href=“–09-13b-forum.mp3” ] Jonathan Franzen Inter­viewed on KQED Forum. Sep­tem­ber 13, 2010 [/gplayer]

Thanks Male­na for the tip!

by | Permalink | Comments (5) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (5)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Shelley says:

    I haven’t yet read Free­dom and my work is very dif­fer­ent from his, but I had an ambiva­lent response to his com­ments on Kaku­tani: I could­n’t decide if it was good that he was will­ing to say some­thing risky, or if it just low­ered the dis­course.


  • Kristine says:

    What Ron Charles says about the sec­tion in which Pat­ty is sup­pos­ed­ly writ­ing in her own voice but can­not be dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed from Franzen’s own voice is dead on! I’m at that part of the book now and every time I pick it up to read again it takes me awhile before I real­ize the words are sup­posed to be Pat­ty’s words.

    Oth­er than that, I am real­ly enjoy­ing the book. I’m biased though, being from Min­neso­ta I get extra enjoy­ment from the local ref­er­ences.

  • Bron says:

    Enjoyed read­ing “Free­dom” but ulti­mate­ly felt “So what?”..just more “Des­per­ate House­wives” gussied up with eco/politially cor­rect frills. Com­par­isons to Dick­ens are real­ly a bit of a stretch.

  • Mike says:

    It’s real­ly sad to see how warm­ly this book has been wel­comed by peo­ple who think of them­selves as lib­er­als.

    This book is not lib­er­al in any mean­ing­ful sense. It argues that there is ‘too much lib­er­ty’ and links this to poor peo­ple breed­ing too much — in an accept­able way of course (the poor peo­ple are Repub­li­can-vot­ing trail­er trash, so, y’know, it’s okay to hate them).

    Read­ing peo­ple like Franzen, you start to under­stand how writ­ers like D H Lawrence and GB Shaw years ago could call them­selves social­ists and still advo­cate eugen­ics. Once you come to real­ly believe in the stu­pid­i­ty of worth­less­ness of those who dis­agree with you, any­thing becomes accept­able.

  • JT says:

    I’m not a huge fan of Franzen’s, but I have to agree with him about Kaku­tani. She’s just abom­inable, and has got­ten worse (more screechy, more self-impor­tant, more pre­dictable and more tone deaf) over the years. I haven’t read any NYT week­day book reviews since Richard Eder left.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.