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  1. This is Jonathan Franzen's latest novel. Ever since I read his The Corrections I've kept a look-out for his work. The setting of the novel stretches over time and place and generations. San Francisco, South America, and communist era East Germany are the main locations. Purity Tyler, known as Pip, is an unsettled 20 something who has an ambivalent relationship with the only parent she knows, her mother. The latter will on no account reveal who is Pip's father. Another ambivalent relationship is that of Andreas with his mother in East Berlin; she is quite high up in the Communist hierarchy, adores her son and he, for his part, is in some perverse sexual way attracted and then repelled by her. Anabel (sic) in New York is the most eccentric character I've come across in a novel for many a long year, beautiful, rich, controlling and, bluntly, a head-case: how husband Tom puts up with her for so long is a mystery, not least to Tom himself. If all this sounds like an old-fashioned saga, it's nothing of the kind. Information is the link to the various characters. Whether it's the Stasi's inexhaustible files and informants or the use and misuses of the internet, hacking and whistleblowing. At some points I got a bit lost in the various time zones and locations. Sometimes Franzen's hobby-horses regarding information technology were on the verge of ruining the narrative but it was well worth staying with. ETA:I read one or two professional reviews today which only confirm my usual reluctance to do a 'write-up' of a novel. Tuesday 21st June.
  2. The Guardian newspaper called it a "modern-day classic" and "the novel of the century". President Obama read it on his holiday and Franzen became the first American writer to appear on the Time Magazine cover in ten years. The last, in 2000, was writer Stephen King. So I'm expecting something very interesting. Has anyone here read Franzen and what makes him so good? I have never heard of him until now!
  3. Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections has been sitting in my TBR shelf for roughly two years. At long last the stark red, black and white spine outstared me from across the livingroom and now I'm roughly half-way through. I'm struggling to finish it (and finish it I must - why do I do this to myself ) and just wondered whether it's worth my while persevering; whether there might be untold wonders yet in store. My main complaint is with the characters who form the disbanded, disillusioned, slightly surreal Lambert family and we follow them as they try to deal with their relationships with one another and with their father's/husband's descent into Parkinsons disease. None of the characters (so far) have any warmth that make you care about the family's struggle and the themes are not explored properly; Franzen seems to pick them up and drop them again. It reminds me so much of Chuck Palahniuk's handling of contemporary America except it lacks Palahniuk's humour and wacky plot. To be fair, Franzen's writing style is effortless and would be a pleasure to read if the plot and characters were up to the job. I think this book was on Oprah's book club list a while ago and it was a huge bestseller a couple of years back. I guess I must be missing something. Rebecca
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