Revisiting Franzen and Freedom.

Today, Fresh Air re-broadcast a couple of pieces on Jonathan Franzen and his novel Freedom, which is now out in paperback. I wasn’t surprised to find that I mostly disagreed with Maureen Corrigan’s review, which I don’t remember hearing when it was first broadcast last year – I mean, considering how the plot wraps itself up with such concise tidiness at the end, it’s hard for me to consider it “realist.” Don’t get me wrong – I have my gripes about Freedom, but overall, I liked and enjoyed it, and would certainly recommend it as a reading experience.

I skipped through much of Terry’s interview with Franzen because I remembered I had heard it the first time it aired, but I caught one section which I still think is great on second listen, which I thought I’d share here:

People who have a depressive cast of mind are usually the funniest people you meet, and there’s nothing like putting a couple of Eeyores into the text to make it at least a little bit funny. What else? Why did I want depressives in here? It’s, you know, most interesting people become somewhat depressed at some point in their life, and I’m not writing books for people whose lives are perfectly great. People whose lives are perfectly great probably don’t need to read books like the kind I write.

(Emphasis added.)

Overall, what I think I like most about this interview is that Franzen seems to really answer and thoroughly address the questions that I have about his writing process, books, and, you know, life.


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