After reading Jonathan Franzen's bestseller, Freedom (2010), I didn't know what to say about it. Sometimes when you enjoy something so much and have so many thoughts, it's hard to get any thoughts out. I originally bought a copy of Freedomهتbecauseهتit wasهتdoing wellهتon the New York Times Best Seller List and on display at every Borders.هتAfter reading and enjoying it so much, I wanted to check out his other work, so I picked upهتa copy of one of his earlier novels, The Corrections (2002). Once again, I was not disappointed. Franzen is a very talented author, and I now consider him one of my favorites.
One of the things I love most aboutهت Franzen's writing isهتthe way he brings hisهتcharacters to life. Many characters in the novels I read oftentimes feel one-dimensional because the authorهتtends to place a greaterهتfocus on bringing the reader to an understanding ofهتthe character'sهتthoughts and behaviors of usually one central theme in the story, whereas in Franzen's work his characters seem more like real people dealing with multiple issues. The charactersهتfeel multi-dimensional because we get a glimpse of their past and present not only from themselves but also through the eyes of others close to them.
Another reason I like both novels is because they deal with aهتnumber of intertwined issues that seem very adult-like, yet Franzen's characters are very much human and they still act childish and make mistakes. I actually find it a little inspiring that the majority of the characters in his novels are grown adults still learning things about themselves and working to become better people/more successful. I also like his underlying message at the end of both novels that it's never to late to change whether it be in terms of your career, your relationships with family/friends/significant others, your hobbies, anything really.
“”A book which is funny, moving, generous, brutal, and intelligent, and which poses the ultimate question, what life is for –and that is as much as anyone could ask.”” –The Guardian (U.K.) on The Corrections
In addition,هتI like how Franzen divides his novels into chapters of sorts in whichهتafter spending an adequate enough timegetting the reader familiar with one character's situation, he's able toهتfindهتa proper breaking pointهتto switch to another character. He has a gift of flowing from one character to another and intertwining several characters' stories without making it too confusing and without taking away from any of the characters' story plots. The oscillating point of view is actually what allows the reader to most identify with the characters. It's the idea of “”putting on a show for others.”” In The Corrections and Freedom, Franzen's characters are always comparing their seemingly disastrous lives with another character's seemingly “”perfect”” life, but when Franzen switches to another character's viewpoint, the reader soon comes to realize that not a single character in either novel has a perfect life. They're all going through issues of their own which makes the novels more realistic and enjoyable anyway.
Despiteهتworking with some serious topics in his novel, Franzen is able to lighten the mood with his sense of humor throughهتinterspersed comedic scenes.هتThere were a few scenes at which I literally laughed out loud or smiled incessantly while reading. Whileهتboth novels are overهت500 pages long, they are worth spending numerous hours with. They are very entertaining, and I actually looked forward to picking up where I had left off each night. I highly recommend both novels. In fact, I was contemplating which one I enjoyed more and I surprisingly can't pick one over the other…so read both! A large part of the U.S. is experiencing some harsh weather, so while many schools and offices are closed, now would be the perfect time to snuggle up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and one of Franzen's books.