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September 05, 2010

What Obama Could Learn from Franzen's "Freedom"

While on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, we noted President Obama got an early copy of Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom.

Frank Rich: "The book has since rocketed up the Amazon best-seller list, powered by reviews even more ecstatic than those for Franzen's last novel, The Corrections. But I doubt that the president, a fine writer who draws sustenance from great American writers, has read Freedom yet. If he had, he never would have delivered that bloodless speech on Tuesday night."

"What was so grievously missing from Obama's address was any feeling for what has happened to our country during the seven-and-a-half-year war whose 'end' he was marking. That legacy of anger and grief is what Freedom mainlines to its readers. In chronicling one Midwestern family as it migrates from St. Paul to Washington during the 9/11 decade, Franzen does for our traumatic time what Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities did for the cartoonish go-go 1980s. Or perhaps, more pertinently, what The Great Gatsby did for the ominous boom of the 1920s."


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