Freedom by Johnathan Franzen

I’m not actually finished with this book, and frankly I don’t know if I’ll make it to the finish line. I need to vent about this. This is my “Infinite Jest” of 2012. It took me two years to force-read myself through that nonsense, no offense to the late David Foster Wallace. Franzen has some controversy behind his name, but I neither remember what it was all about (other than it had to do with “The Corrections” and Oprah – and you DON’T screw around with Oprah!), nor do I care enough to research it at this present moment.

“Freedom” focuses on a married couple, Walter and Patty Berglund. Walter is sort of a non-descript sort of dude, not a boat rocker, plays submissive to Patty’s overbearing presence. (Until later in the book when he hooks up with his much younger assistant.) She is annoying, that’s all I know, and I worry that I have some of those qualities. She is beyond sarcastic, which I know I have a tendency to do. My sarcasm is so dry that it often is mistaken for truth. As we learn through her memoir of her  college days within the framework of the actual story, she developed a crush on Walter’s BFF/roomie, Richard, who is your stereotypical rocker dude. This crush goes unrequited until they’re in their 40s and have a moment at the Berglund’s summer home – Richard is doing some carpentry work there to earn some bucks since the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle isn’t exactly bringing home the bacon.

The Berglunds are so far in the weeds that even their kids don’t want to be around them. Usually I’d chalk this up to teenager drama, but in this case I think they are absolutely right to want to get far, far away from Mom and Dad. Joey is so ballsy as to move out – and into his girlfriend’s house – which happens to be next door. That is some cold shit right there. Jessica follows in her father’s footsteps, of being non-descript, the other  child, that I really don’t even know much about her character. Maybe she gets some page time later on.

At some point, it was past the 200 page mark, I completely lost interest in these characters and what happened to them. If they all went off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style, I’d be ok with that for an ending.

I’m now close to page 500 and in skimming mode. If there’s a page with not much dialogue, I’m skipping it. Plot be damned. I’m more than over it, but I’ll forge ahead because that’s what I do. Mama didn’t raise me to be no quitter.

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