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Readers offer mixed response to Jonathan Franzen's ‘Freedom’

“Freedom” is mine.

I finally purchased Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom,” the novel that has dominated literary debates.

The discussions started when some prominent female authors suggested praise for “Freedom” highlighted a gender disparity in the world of literary reviews.

Then came Oprah Winfrey.

She and Franzen have a history. She chose his 2001 novel, “The Corrections,” for her famous book club. Unfortunately, Franzen was less than psyched about the distinction.

Franzen made comments suggesting that Oprah’s endorsement could hurt his book’s image. It prompted the TV talk show host to cancel Franzen’s appearance on her show.

Fast forward nearly 10 years later: Oprah chose Franzen’s follow-up novel, “Freedom,” as a book club selection. Really.

Most recently, Franzen made headlines when “Freedom” wasn’t among the newly unveiled National Book Award finalists. “The Corrections” won the National Book Award in 2001.

Still foggy on “Freedom”?

Spanning nearly 600 pages, the book relies on some of the tactics that made “The Corrections” popular. It offers an in-depth portrait of an American family.

Make no mistake: I haven’t actually read “Freedom” yet.

I’ve enjoyed the thrill of carrying the massive novel without taking a concrete stance on the debate it has generated. What’s more, the hoopla surrounding “Freedom” makes me reluctant to regard the book as a casual read.

If I start “Freedom,” I will commit to the book. I will read every page — relatively quickly — and develop a thoughtful, well-rounded analysis of Franzen’s work.

Sound daunting?

Fortunately, I’m en route to a five-day vacation — when down time will be prevalent and airplane delays will be inevitable.

Part of me hopes to go crazy for the book. It’s been a little while since I’ve enjoyed a piece of fiction that sustained my attention in the same way that made me read while walking through the playground in elementary school.

At the same time, my inner critic wants to defy the book’s hype enough to ask Oprah what she was thinking.

When I start the discussion, I’d like you to join in. E-mail me at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com with your thoughts on the book. I might include your comments in an upcoming column.

“Freedom,” here I come. I hope to remain mesmerized enough to enjoy literary captivity.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at 706-571-8516.

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