Sunday, August 29, 2010

Come For Coffee, Talk About Freedom!

The media has readers all in a frenzy about Jonathan Franzen's new book, Freedom. First, Franzen's on the cover of Time Magazine, next, Barack Obama receives an advance copy from a bookshop in Martha's Vineyard and makes the nightly news, then the New York Times actually calls it a masterpiece. And this is all before the book even goes on sale on Tuesday, August 31st.

What's a regular reader to think? Is Freedom really worth it? How can it possibly live up to this hype? Our customers want to know.

Sue and I have the scoop. We too snagged an advance copy (our own little Barack Obama book club -- too bad he didn't even know it) and we're here to tell you that Freedom does indeed live up to the hype. We loved it.

If you loved The Corrections (and we did) you'll love Freedom. It's the same kind of astute, penetrating family drama, but this time he's analyzing the Berglunds, a suburban family of the 90's who drive Volvos, shop at Whole Foods, get milk delivered in glass bottles and preserve historical homes. You'd swear he was writing about Glen Ellyn.

Sue and I can't stop talking about it. Our only debate is how much we loved it - is it our favorite novel of the year? -- maybe. Was it perfect? -- no. We both agreed there was a chapter or two that didn't work for us, such as a weird Haliburton-type scheme in the later part of the book ("Bad News"). As smartly written as it is, I feel as though it lacks a certain soulfulness that I look for in my perfect book, whatever that might be.

But as Sue said: "this one belongs in a class all by itself - I just can't compare it to anything. . . . The writing absolutely blew me away." As for me, I loved the psychological depth and complexity of the characters, and Franzen's brilliant, almost superpower of observation. And the writing: you savor the words, you're addicted to the narrative. When you're done, you wish you hadn't started it yet. You'll want to call Patty Berglund on the phone and have a nice long talk: "How's Walter?" you'll want to say, "and the kids?" It's just that good.

So yes, we're definitely recommending this book, and we invite you to stop in to buy it and come back to talk about it. The Bookstore is going to have free coffee available this Friday, September 3rd, from 10am until noon. Stop by as you're spinning around downtown and we'll have some "coffee talk" -- whether it's about Franzen's buzzworthy Freedom or any of the other great fall books we're recommending.

Hope to see you soon!
Sue, Margie and all the folks at The Bookstore

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