Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Franzen frenzy

By Geoff Schumacher

The big book of the fall is Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Freedom. It debuted in stores yesterday, but its release was preceded by rave reviews in all the big newspapers and magazines. Time magazine put Franzen on the cover. President Obama went looking for a copy before the release date, and although the store he was in couldn’t sell him a commercial edition, it did dig up an advanced reader’s copy for him to take home.

All this was interesting for two reasons: 1) It showed it’s still possible in this digital era to build hype about a book, and 2) Freedom is a literary novel, not a spy thriller, mystery or vampire romance. It’s been decades, it seems, since people got excited about a literary novel.

Of course, I rushed to Borders yesterday and bought a copy, wisely using my frequent-buyer club coupon giving me a 33 percent discount.

But here’s the problem: I have the 562-page book but I’m not going to be able to do anything with it, such as read it, for a while. I feel that I should read Franzen’s last celebrated novel, The Corrections, first. The stories are unrelated, but it seems like a prerequisite act. And I can’t start The Corrections until I finish the novel I’m currently reading, which is Gary Shteyngart’s hilarious and great Super Sad True Love Story. About a hundred pages left in that one, so I should be able to start The Corrections fairly soon.

Meantime, Freedom sits patiently on the desk, waiting. I figure I’ll be able to crack it open around Nov. 1.

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