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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wednesday, 6th July - Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (chosen by An)

We had a struggle with this book.  A few of us gave up reading altogether while most got at least half-way through. .... We checked on each other - The main problem was that the characters had become real and were absolutely awful ....  but then (Ant said) they just couldn't help being what they were - look at what they had to cope with as they grew up? etc...  In some way, talking about it helped us to plod on .... though the ride wasn't to be a smooth one.

Ant gave up reading and got hold of an audio book. From then on, she took the book lightly and it became a hilarious read.  Ca who gave up a few times over, started reading again and the book miraculously turned into a page-turner, once she got past the half-way point .....  An, who kept on reading steadily through says she preferred Corrections (also by the same author) if one had to compare the two ..... There were times when It took forever for things to happen. There were a lot of uncomfortable moments.  It is worth persisting with, though.  Once you get to the end of the book, you actually come full circle and then begin to appreciate the whole story.  

There were 7 of us at the meeting .... 4 finished the book. But we all had something to say no matter how far we had gone with our read.

What we Discussed:

1. The book and how it was received in the US when it was first published.

2. The author, (briefly) his background and other work that he has written, his popularity in the US ....  the controversy and row over his book "Corrections" and the Oprah show ... (we were most amused!!)

3.  The characters ....  We did not like any of them at all ..... (Connie? Maybe Connie was the only mildly likeable character?) ....  We talked about Walter ... his family ... how he was treated by the family, his role as son, husband, father, friend ....  Patty, her family ... how she was treated by them. Her relationship with others ... also with her "best" friend from college, Eliza ....  Walter and Patty .... Lalitha (O Lalitha!) ... Joey .....  Joey and Connie .....  (Can you believe that he actually moved in next door?) Joey and Patty ... Joey and Walter ..... Jessica .... Jessica and Walter .... Jessica and Patty ......  Walter's siblings ..... Patty's siblings .... Richard Katz (Aaah Richard!) and it went on .....

4. An read out sections of author interviews .... passed around various pictures of the author and asked quite a few questions that led to heavy discussion.  (Link to discussion questions listed below.) We had to stop in the end as it was getting too late into the evening to go on! (sigh!)

Some Interesting Links:

The Guardian - Franzen and Oprah 9 years later

Franzen on the Oprah Show (various links)  
 (also has link to discussion questions)

Video link from after the Oprah show

The Independant (article)

Video Link - Franzen (America almost a rogue state)

Video link on youtube - Meet the Writers (Franzen)

Freedom - Australia's First Tuesday Bookclub - ABC TV

Reading Franzen - Booktopia Blog

Salon Reading Club interview with Franzen

Franzen - Time Magazine

Typeset error - copies of Freedom recalled in the UK

Discussion questions (Newburgh free guides)

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