Franzen: s/d

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Has anyone read any of Franzen's other books? I am about to finish 'The 27th City' (about 10 pages from the end) and I must say I do not care for it. I did like the 'Corrections' and I can see how he eventually was able to write it (I can explain if this makes no sense). But I feel like there is some piece I am missing in 'The 27th City'. Has anyone else read this? I also have a copy of his second book 'Strong Motion' and am wondering if it is worth reading.

bookdwarf (bookdwarf), Monday, 28 June 2004 19:07 (nineteen years ago) link

I read and enjoyed both The Corrections and Strong Motion. I also just finished his essay collection, which I also really liked.

The Twenty-Seventh City is on deck for me, so your comments are a little disheartening. What, exactly, don't you like about it? I'll probably give it a chance anyway.

Brian Sawyer, Tuesday, 29 June 2004 16:54 (nineteen years ago) link

The NYTimes Magazine article about Franzen and his devotion to writing even if it tanked his marriage was maybe the most compelling thing I have ever read.

I kept thinking 'what a freak.'

clellie, Tuesday, 29 June 2004 20:58 (nineteen years ago) link

I guess I didn't like that there were too many characters to keep track of and I didn't care about any of them because there wasn't room to develop them. I am not one of these people who have to like a character to enjoy a book, but the characters seemed one dimensional. Plus Franzen included all of this intrigue but I found it hard to align with what was actually happening in the plot, if that makes any sense.

bookdwarf (bookdwarf), Thursday, 1 July 2004 19:15 (nineteen years ago) link

I've only read The Corrections, but all of my friends -- who are, for the most part, knowledgeable, book-loving folks -- who have read The 27th City (at least, to my knowledge) have disliked it. So, Bookdwarf, others feel the same.

nory (nory), Thursday, 1 July 2004 19:43 (nineteen years ago) link

I read the first 50 pages of 27th city, and I decided to stop. it seemed like lesser vonnegut - unfunny satire, shaggy dog plot... I don't think he'd yet found his talent, which is, based on the Corrections, character. i did like his essays, though.

David Elinsky (David Elinsky), Thursday, 1 July 2004 20:48 (nineteen years ago) link

Hmm, gratified to know I am not the only one. Do you ever feel like you ought to like a book? I think Franzen hadn't hit his stride yet with '27th City'. Has anyone read 'Strong Motion'? Is it worth reading?

bookdwarf (bookdwarf), Thursday, 1 July 2004 21:00 (nineteen years ago) link

ten months pass...
this short story is not bad at all

Mayor Maynot, Thursday, 19 May 2005 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

What's funny is that I read The Twenty-Seventh City first, many man years ago, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Breezy, not terribly deep, but a good fun book. Admittedly, I'm from St. Louis, so it was interesting to me for that reason.

Anyways, then I read his more "literary" (for lack of a better word) stuff and found it kinda ponderous in comparison.

I think people who come from The Corrections, or his very elegant stories, expect more from The Twenty-Seventh City than they're going to find. Don't compare it to The Corrections; compare it to the average thriller--Hunt for Red October, say, or Ludlum.

The Mad Puffin, Wednesday, 25 May 2005 14:53 (eighteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I am reading How To Be Alone. It is odd: he writes well, as such a writer usually does; and he is interesting. But quite often I am simply not convinced by his claims. Has anyone else had this experience?

My largest thought about the book is how US-specific it seems to be. I feel that many of his claims must have been (or remain) plausible for the USA, while feeling off-beam for the UK. Does anyone agree with that? I suppose I am mainly thinking of his sense of living amid cultural 'totalitarianism' (an ill-advised word anyway, no doubt) and a philistinism that threatens to crush the spirit. He says what he's getting at is the difficulty of retaining 'individuality and complexity in a noisy and distracting mass culture'. But is this a genuine problem? I think it's a bogus one. I don't think I can think of anyone I know who has lost their individuality to the mass culture around them.

He is better and more original on the decline of the 'public'.

the pinefox, Thursday, 30 June 2005 13:56 (eighteen years ago) link

BUT - his essay on the lack of discretion immediately follows one on his father's illness and death, quoting his mother's private letters! Crazy!

the pinefox, Tuesday, 5 July 2005 13:50 (eighteen years ago) link

four years pass...

i like his story in this weeks new yorker a lot. i think the distanced, reportorial tone gives it some emotional heft & he mostly avoids the exaggerated meanspiritedness of the corrections although some of the "professional democrat" stuff comes close

Lamp, Thursday, 27 May 2010 18:33 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah, that's really good, I enjoyed it a lot. The posts upthread about his strength being character are otm.

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 27 May 2010 19:14 (thirteen years ago) link

two months pass...

enthusiasm about the new one

baby i know that you think i'm just a lion (schlump), Thursday, 12 August 2010 21:33 (thirteen years ago) link,16641,20100823,00.html

markers, Thursday, 12 August 2010 21:48 (thirteen years ago) link

If they could talk, the otters would tell Franzen to man up, chill out and have a sea urchin. But I'm not sure that's possible for him, or even a good idea. Franzen's self-consciousness is part of what makes his writing so good, because he is painfully conscious not only of his own self but of your self too. It's his instrument, in the musical and also the scientific sense: a delicate, finely calibrated recording device. The otters may not be worried. But Franzen is worried enough for all of us.


Mr. Que, Thursday, 12 August 2010 23:02 (thirteen years ago) link

I love that NYmag review, a joy to read such simple good vibes - am anticipating bigtime now.

All that stuff about Franzen the crank and curmudgeon I dislike in principle in an individual - but what's so great is that with him I don't particularly care and that's fine, whereas some other authors feel like all front, as if the books are just a means of them selling you their personality.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 13 August 2010 11:04 (thirteen years ago) link

Sam Anderson is pretty great I think - also looking forward to this now.

Stevie T, Friday, 13 August 2010 11:24 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...

Jonathan Franzen's glasses held to ransom: Launch party for acclaimed novel Freedom marred by theft of spectacles from author's face

peacocks, Tuesday, 5 October 2010 12:38 (thirteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Been reading Freedom. I find myself swinging between feeling involved with the story and feeling like there is some overtly obvious manipulation going on where it's like watching a tv melodrama.

(bnw) (bnw), Monday, 25 October 2010 18:05 (thirteen years ago) link


bows don't kill people, arrows do (Jordan), Monday, 25 October 2010 19:44 (thirteen years ago) link

kinda feel like tv melodramas are more artfully structured

soda lake swame (Lamp), Tuesday, 26 October 2010 23:40 (thirteen years ago) link

lol i think the LRB review compared it to a tv melodrama as well

just sayin, Wednesday, 27 October 2010 07:49 (thirteen years ago) link

why is the emotional manipulation like that of a tv melodrama and not like that of a victorian novel?

thomp, Wednesday, 27 October 2010 12:57 (thirteen years ago) link

because he speaks to our times, dude.

j., Wednesday, 27 October 2010 15:45 (thirteen years ago) link

and shows us who we are.

j., Wednesday, 27 October 2010 15:46 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...
one month passes...

Could Walter's using the example of the Dave Matthews Band as the epitome of bad music be a sub-textual reference to ILX?

calstars, Saturday, 22 January 2011 16:22 (thirteen years ago) link

I find it difficult to believe Franzen has never stumbled briefly into ilx, while searching the net, due to its roots in Pitchfork. That he would stay and tourist around in it seems only very remote and unlikely to me. He'd never escape and his output would fall to zero.

Aimless, Saturday, 22 January 2011 18:48 (thirteen years ago) link

on the other hand, i think a lot of people just dislike the dave matthews band

thomp, Sunday, 23 January 2011 10:47 (thirteen years ago) link

also he took like ten years to write freedom, right? that's like nine and a half days per page. p much zero

thomp, Sunday, 23 January 2011 10:49 (thirteen years ago) link

In Freedom, the portrayal of Patty is intriguing because her awakening is never proclaimed, is muffled and almost denied (I haven't read her postscript yet), and in her section -- "written by her" -- she is defenseless and naive. So overall, Franzen keeps her distance and seems to be saying that some things can't be known and are the domain of fiction.

The kitchen sink quality is odd because my guess is that Franzen is reticent, but in a weird way, it seems he aspires to be frantic and popular, but in Freedom it plays out in a more controlled, 4th album way (than in the Corrections). This is not a judgment upon him or his writing.

youn, Sunday, 23 January 2011 22:35 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...

I'm about 1/3 of the way into Strong Motion. Enjoying it, possibly more than the later two

calstars, Sunday, 6 March 2011 18:13 (twelve years ago) link

two months pass...

Maybe I need to read this new essay again but I was really searching for the point.

calstars, Monday, 30 May 2011 14:04 (twelve years ago) link

Jonathan Franzen is the author, most recently, of “Freedom.” This essay is adapted from a commencement speech he delivered on May 21 at Kenyon College.

thomp, Monday, 30 May 2011 23:44 (twelve years ago) link

Hey, that's my alma mater. My year, though, instead of Franzen or Wallace, we had a certain Republican presidential candidate as commencement speaker whose son was supposed to graduate with us but did not :-(.

27 Dresses, 13 Assassins (Eazy), Tuesday, 31 May 2011 22:37 (twelve years ago) link

one month passes...

should I bother reading Freedom? I don't care for Updike.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 20 July 2011 17:27 (twelve years ago) link

I love Updike and I loved Freedom,

calstars, Thursday, 21 July 2011 01:09 (twelve years ago) link

Freedom made me feel gross. Franzen is a good writer in terms of his language but every character was just awful, even the ones with which you're supposed to sympathize.

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 21 July 2011 01:10 (twelve years ago) link

yeah he can't wipe this sheen of disdain from the characters, and I HATE his narrative voice: this pseudo-cute smart informality.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 21 July 2011 01:14 (twelve years ago) link

That combined with his awful sex scenes made it a queasy reading experience.

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 21 July 2011 01:17 (twelve years ago) link

i actually kinda liked the corrections as i was reading it, even if the flaws were plentiful and obvious, like here is a dude who came out of one tradition and is now pushing himself hard in the opposite direction, even if the ball is bouncing off the backboard 50 percent of the time. but freedom was just junk. whoever said "tv melodramas" up thread was otm, but it's more like someone turned one of those not-even-melodramatic-enough-to-be-oscar-bait indie flicks into an hbo miniseries. except instead of coddling and putting a halo around the gently fucked-up middle-class characters the way most of those filmmakers do, you get, as alfred said, a constant and not always subliminal disdain. i don't mind unlikable protagonists or even author-contempt for same but the style's gotta be a LOT better than franzen's and the stakes have gotta be higher. or it's at least got to be funny.

franzen the person, at least as expressed through his writing-about-himself since it's not like i know the dude, strikes me as one of the more deeply unpleasant literary personas of "our" generation.

apichathong song (strongo hulkington's ghost dad), Thursday, 21 July 2011 13:48 (twelve years ago) link

that new yorker article he wrote recently (robinson crusoe/dfw/etc) mostly made me feel bad for him. so bitter.

i love 'the corrections' fwiw.

hardcore oatmeal (Jordan), Thursday, 21 July 2011 14:42 (twelve years ago) link

"etc" there = "jonathan fucking franzen" and it was as usual the primary subject of the essay iirc

my Sonicare toothbrush (difficult listening hour), Thursday, 21 July 2011 14:45 (twelve years ago) link

yeah that essay was the first that actually made me want to put sugar in his gas tank or something. and it's not like there's been a shortage of irritating j. franzen essays over the last 15 years.

apichathong song (strongo hulkington's ghost dad), Thursday, 21 July 2011 14:50 (twelve years ago) link

One of my favorite horrors: "The kitchen area was a nauseating, never-cleaned sty that smelled like a mental illness."


The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 21 July 2011 15:02 (twelve years ago) link

jars of pee iirc

she started dancing to that (Finefinemusic), Thursday, 21 July 2011 15:03 (twelve years ago) link

freedom is what happens when a meanspirited and successful novelist who lives in brooklyn decides that he can write authoritatively about all sorts of things and people that have very little to do with the daily lives of meanspirited, successful novelists who live in brooklyn.

like his disdain and his lack of curiosity make it impossible for him to accurately or convincingly portray how someone like joey would see or feel about the world so he ends up being this ridiculous, hateful figure. & w/ the exception of the bird stuff most of the 'detail' in the novel came across like half-remembered takes on old new yorker and atlantic articles with a bit of the sunday style section thrown in.

a series of interminable puns (Lamp), Thursday, 21 July 2011 15:16 (twelve years ago) link

difficult listening hour helpfully provided several examples of sparkling prose from the Crusoe article:

To speak more generally, the ultimate goal of technology, the telos of techne, is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes — a world of hurricanes and hardships and breakable hearts, a world of resistance — with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self.
Even when I didn’t have anybody to call or text or e-mail, I wanted to keep fondling my new Bold and experiencing the marvelous clarity of its screen, the silky action of its track pad, the shocking speed of its responses, the beguiling elegance of its graphics.

It’s a long story, but basically I fell in love with birds. I did this not without significant resistance, because it’s very uncool to be a birdwatcher, because anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 21 July 2011 17:08 (twelve years ago) link

most white american writers don't even bother. cuz they know they would suck at writing about anyone not like them or from their tiny world. journalists who write fiction (like crime fiction) don't seem to think its a big deal. probably because they have met more than 4 people in their work as journalists.

scott seward, Monday, 1 August 2016 19:49 (seven years ago) link

mostly people just take a tip from t.v. and have everyone talk and act the same no matter who they are. which is the safest bet if you don't know how to create living breathing fictional characters who differ from each other in substantial ways.

scott seward, Monday, 1 August 2016 19:55 (seven years ago) link

p sure many, many of the authors i've read you mention on the reading threads don't write about people who aren't the same race as them, and that doesn't make them bad writers. you can write about what you don't know without it being another race.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Monday, 1 August 2016 20:00 (seven years ago) link

i wanna be really clear. there isn't anything that anyone HAS to write about. but i also don't think that anything should be "dangerous" to write about. even if its a misguided polemic on race written by an outsider. it will live and die on its own merits. i also think that there are a LOT of current white american fiction writers who write what they know and it often turns out that they don't know that much. or know much about people. most of the (white) writers i love know a lot about people. inside and out. if people is their thing. and not the process of terraforming distant planets. sometimes that is their thing. and knowing something inside and out is one way a minor writer can become a major one.

scott seward, Monday, 1 August 2016 20:23 (seven years ago) link

can we talk about his choice of jeans

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 1 August 2016 20:30 (seven years ago) link

i wanna be really clear. there isn't anything that anyone HAS to write about. but i also don't think that anything should be "dangerous" to write about. even if its a misguided polemic on race written by an outsider. it will live and die on its own merits. i also think that there are a LOT of current white american fiction writers who write what they know and it often turns out that they don't know that much. or know much about people. most of the (white) writers i love know a lot about people. inside and out. if people is their thing. and not the process of terraforming distant planets. sometimes that is their thing. and knowing something inside and out is one way a minor writer can become a major one.

fair enough. i guess i think even within an ostensibly narrow frame a writer can achieve a lot. even when writing about people they might feel they know, they discover things they don't know. a lot of writing seems to be based on this idea. like if you took a synopsis it would be easy to dismiss but the discoveries within are more than the subject might suggest. there are interesting things in every life.

i feel like "write what you don't know" is as valuable or maybe moreso than "write what you know" - i'm not sure fiction writing is ever done from a position of knowledge and comfort and confidence, but i don't know.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Monday, 1 August 2016 20:43 (seven years ago) link

you can totally be narrow and achieve a lot but you have to be really talented and compelling and interesting and you should know that narrow space you live in like the back of your hand.

write what you don't know is definitely valuable. that's why i like sci-fi. i wish all the normal nerds of lit fic would read more sci-fi.

i just like being in good hands. reading those ferrante books was so cool because i was in such good hands. she totally owns her world. no hesitancy. no fraidy-cat self-consciousness. it's law. not a tentative stab at some vaguely interesting insight about some vaguely interesting subject that someone read about in the new yorker or the new york times.

scott seward, Monday, 1 August 2016 21:51 (seven years ago) link

i might even go so far as to say that i don't trust a writer who says there is something dangerous to write about. but i am glad that he's not planning to go all tom wolfe on the race issue...

scott seward, Monday, 1 August 2016 21:53 (seven years ago) link

i wish all the normal nerds of lit fic would read more sci-fi.

this seems like a weird thing to say, i feel like all the major lit fic people now have read a lot of SF and have that as part of their world, while this is less true of last century's big white novelists like Roth/Bellow/Updike

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 1 August 2016 21:57 (seven years ago) link

maybe they didn't read the right sci-fi books...

i don't think people should be looking at the U.S. for fiction now anyway. ain't no ferrantes around these parts as far as i can see. i'm not really the best judge though. since i'm usually hanging out with the out of print moldy figs.

scott seward, Monday, 1 August 2016 22:34 (seven years ago) link

I think it is telling, though, that franzen basically isn't interested in black people or their experiences. He doesnt need to write about them, and im sure hed do a shoddy job if he did, but it seems as though he gives not 1 shit.

It's a pretty shocking revelation, a bombshell even.

a charisma-free shitlord (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 00:14 (seven years ago) link

Indeed. Though the idea that you can only write about what you have loved explains why franzen can write so much about himself and people just like him.

(of a horse) wearing blinders.
having or showing a limited outlook.
"a small-minded, blinkered approach"
synonyms: narrow-minded, inward-looking, parochial, provincial, insular, small-minded, close-minded, shortsighted; hidebound, illiberal, inflexible, entrenched, prejudiced

scott seward, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 00:34 (seven years ago) link

which is different than being in a narrow space. zane grey and the ventures were really cool. so were p.g. wodehouse and j.j. cale.

scott seward, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 00:36 (seven years ago) link

how did this thread get so far w/o anyone making the 'he cant write effectively about white ppl either' joke?>?

( ^_^) (Lamp), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 00:37 (seven years ago) link

I really do not understand the mindset which suggests that a contemporary writer has a duty to cover all major social issues. Should he be taken to task for failing to address creation science being taught in schools next?

MatthewK, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 00:57 (seven years ago) link

Are the characters in his books explicitly described as white? Are the experiences they have not available to people of other races?

calstars, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 01:07 (seven years ago) link

franzen basically isn't interested in black people or their experiences.

I guess I don't see this. I presume he's plenty interested in black people and their experiences -- how can you live in the United States and not be? But he doesn't feel qualified to write about them.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 2 August 2016 01:39 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...


mookieproof, Thursday, 15 November 2018 20:43 (five years ago) link

He would get along just fine with Springsteen

calstars, Thursday, 15 November 2018 21:07 (five years ago) link

the only thing worse than a temporarily embarrassed millionaire is a permanently embarrassed millionaire

the Stanley Kubrick of testicular torsion (bizarro gazzara), Thursday, 15 November 2018 21:18 (five years ago) link

there are ways to become truly poor, you know

President Keyes, Thursday, 15 November 2018 21:21 (five years ago) link

two years pass...

This is from Jonathan Franzen's flap copy. "The" doing a whole, whole, whole lot of work there...

— Rebecca Makkai (@rebeccamakkai) April 26, 2021

mookieproof, Monday, 26 April 2021 20:21 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

Reviews are praising the new novel (no surprise there) but, as oppose to his other books, it seems the public will love it too. If Goodreads reviewers is a good representative sample.

nostormo, Monday, 27 September 2021 20:11 (two years ago) link

A writer friend of mine said it's actually really good.

("actually" intended)

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 27 September 2021 20:39 (two years ago) link

Just like him to write a good book after everyone has already decided he's over.

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Monday, 27 September 2021 20:45 (two years ago) link

Lots of the public have liked several of his other books. Aren't they bestsellers?

the pinefox, Monday, 27 September 2021 23:27 (two years ago) link

They're good books.

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 28 September 2021 22:22 (two years ago) link

This sounds dreadful.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 29 September 2021 23:05 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

Crossroads is so good

calstars, Saturday, 5 March 2022 20:08 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

enjoyed it

not sure why it had to be so long

it contains this hilarious sentence:

He lingered to push his tongue as far into her as it would reach, to taste what his penis couldn’t

but also this decency

The dream of a novel was more resilient than other kinds of dreaming. It could be interrupted in mid-sentence and snapped back into later.

I really don't understand why the guy is so popular, kinda like Elon Musk it seems more like he won the lottery than went out and achieved

but much more fun than Purity that's for sure

corrs unplugged, Wednesday, 11 May 2022 11:06 (one year ago) link

If you mean Crossroads, it's too long and kinda fizzles at the end, I thought -- the other novels have had stronger endings.

I actually enjoy his celebration of awkwardness in free indirect speech (like the penis line - it's funny! and deliberately so, I think). I like that he's unembarrassed to explore the more doltish aspects of our inner monologues without getting all inane and Nick Hornbyesque about it.

(This is probably an overcharitable reading, but I'm a fan, so yeah)

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 11 May 2022 12:45 (one year ago) link

hehe indeed, good defense

I'm not that critical, mostly find it funny, similar to rap music's memorable banalities

and yes, was referring to Crossroads

corrs unplugged, Wednesday, 11 May 2022 13:05 (one year ago) link

Really liked The Corrections and Freedom, everything I read about Purity put me off so I never looked at it, will read Crossroads at some point

It's weird how in many corners of the internet it's taken as a given that "everybody hates Jonathan Franzen" when in fact he is widely praised by critics and his books sell hundreds of thousands of copies

Guayaquil (eephus!), Wednesday, 11 May 2022 13:20 (one year ago) link

sorry ive been overcome by a vision of an alternate universe where penises can taste

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Wednesday, 11 May 2022 13:29 (one year ago) link

I think his non-fiction is insufferable in a way his fiction largely isn't, but not really sure Actual Franzen that closely resembles Internet's Approximation of Franzen.

He is certainly capable of bad, thoughtless writing when he wanders out of his "male sadsack" safe space, but I'm a fan and large uncritical. They're all fun to read, even Purity and Strong Motion. The new one is maybe his best until it sags for the final fifth.

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 11 May 2022 14:02 (one year ago) link

What the Penis Can't Taste: Essays

Guayaquil (eephus!), Wednesday, 11 May 2022 18:27 (one year ago) link

It did strike me while reading Crossroads what kind of massive confidence it must take to write those standard issue Franzen sex scenes, go through the whole revision and editing process, know that thousands of people are going to read them, and still feel comfortable leaving them in as is.

change display name (Jordan), Wednesday, 11 May 2022 18:30 (one year ago) link

Was thinking something similar when I read the book, for sure

Maybe he finds nothing embarrassing about them, maybe he thinks the prose is stellar

corrs unplugged, Thursday, 12 May 2022 10:09 (one year ago) link

Again -- possibly being overcharitable -- but I think he's comfortable having his characters indulge in embarrassing or inappropriate or pretentious modes of thinking, and he doesn't overuse irony or stylistic excess to keep an authorial distance from that.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 12 May 2022 10:58 (one year ago) link

Yeah, I agree and actually don't think that's overcharitable, just the level of charitability we should extend to any author/artwork

corrs unplugged, Saturday, 14 May 2022 07:37 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

I'm about 3/4 of the way through Crossroads and I fucking love this novel. I read the Corrections probably 20 years ago, it was a chore for me at the time; took over a year to finish, I just could not make myself care about most of those people and the ending seemed extremely anticlimactic. I would probably feel differently about it now, and should revisit it. But I feel much more empathy for the characters in Crossroads; each of them, fallible and stupid in their own ways.

I? not I! He! He! HIM! (akm), Thursday, 14 September 2023 14:33 (five months ago) link

Those are the best quarters of the novel, lol. But yeah I still think it's one of his best.

50 Favorite Jordans (Jordan), Thursday, 14 September 2023 14:38 (five months ago) link

yeah, I found the ending a bit disappointing (finished this morning); a bit on the nose ('all these people are at a CROSSROADS in their life do you see'), and it kind of left Perry dangling there although maybe there wasn't much that could be convincingly conveyed from his POV. Though I did like the retreat from Russ and Marion's POVs ... we spent a lot of time in their heads and seeing how that resolved from the outside was a nice change. Anyway, yeah, good book so now I'm reading Freedom.

I? not I! He! He! HIM! (akm), Monday, 18 September 2023 00:08 (five months ago) link

The whole desert trip chapter, especially the farcical sequence where Russ is trying to find somewhere to fuck, is an incredible/nerve-jangling bit of writing — but yeah, everything that comes after was a bit of a disappointment. On the whole an amazing book though.

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 18 September 2023 00:27 (five months ago) link

Now I'm going back and reading Freedom which also sat on my shelf for years unread. 1/4 of the way through it now, it's also great.

I? not I! He! He! HIM! (akm), Wednesday, 20 September 2023 20:48 (five months ago) link

Perry was the most fun character, and his punishment was excessive in a "this is your brain on drugs" way that felt moralistic, Franzen did him dirty from what I remember.

50 Favorite Jordans (Jordan), Wednesday, 20 September 2023 20:52 (five months ago) link

ok, well, just about done with Freedom which I mostly loved but it was depressing as fuck so I need to read something affirming now.

I? not I! He! He! HIM! (akm), Tuesday, 3 October 2023 23:37 (four months ago) link

ok now I'm finished with it and was actually taken by surprise at the denouement.

I? not I! He! He! HIM! (akm), Wednesday, 4 October 2023 14:46 (four months ago) link

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