Reading Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

After a long hiatus, I have finally decided to blog again (things get in the way), and have just finished the book Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

I am very curious to see if anyone has any preliminary thoughts, did they like the book? Did they hate the book? Its weird, I thought the book was enjoyable, but there was no real substance to the book. The depth was missing, sacrificed for the language Franzen chooses to use.

To start my discussion I thought I’d just try and connect all the characters for you, it will probably look quite funny:

Joyce is Patty’s mom who is Walter’s wife and Joey/Jessica’s mom and they all live next door to Monaghan’s whose youngest daughter, Connie, is fucking Joey but he really wants to be fucking Jenna whose brother is Jonathan and father employs Joey which Walter doesn’t approve of and Jessica is jealous of who both work together with Richard, who has an affair with Patty and has been Walter’s best friend and hits on Lalitha who has an affair with Walter and dies in a car accident leaving everyone to mysteriously live happily ever after, besides Richard who dies alone.

 

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Ripper by Isabel Allende

Did I think Allende could do it? Yes, but still I had my doubts.

Ripper pulls the reader right in, it is 500 pages but it reads like 150 (I finished the book in two days). The suspense took a different turn around 40 pages left. I read mystery novels, but I was so invested in the characters from this book that I had to flip through the next pages. I know, I’m the worst, but I had to see what happened. I was going to get a heart attack if not.

Overall the novel is about a series of murders in the San Francisco area. Of course, the main characters are a family, drawn together by the voluminous, evanescence creature, Indiana (I seriously love the name Indi). Her family is strong, her friends are strong and I found the villain believable. I have to say I guessed it!!!! Not in a bad way, since I only guessed half of it, but still I was happy to guess “who dun it” as they say.

One of the things that I always found were Allende’s strengths were building characters that you could read, read into and read again. Do people like Agatha or Amanda really exist? I’m not sure, but Allende does a good job of showing us what it means to be human, to have different loves and interests and beliefs.

Thoughts the Ripper was funny and touching in a way that extended beyond the typical idea of a “mystery novel.” I thought it was a great read, interesting at every turn. I loved the characters and was captivated by Allende’s always stunning use of language (Did she write this in English first??)

Great Passage

He was so eaten up with jealousy that he hired a private detective, a man named Samuel Hamilton Jr., and instructed him to keep tabs on Indiana and a record of the men she met, including her patients at the Holistic Clinic. Hamilton was a short little man with the innocuous air of a vacuum cleaner salesman, but he had inherited the nose of a bloodhound from his father, a journalist who had solved a number of crimes in San Francisco back in the 1960s and was immortalized in the detective novels of William C. Gordon. The son was the spitting image of his father: short, red-haired, balding, keen-eyed. He was dogged and persistent in his fight against the criminal underworld but, overshadowed by his father’s legend, had never managed to truly develop his potential and so scraped by as best he could. Hamilton tailed Indiana for a month without discovering anything of interest, and for a while, Alan was reassured, but his calm was short-lived; soon he would call the detective again, the cycle of mistrust repeating itself with shameful regularity. Fortunately, Indiana knew nothing about these machinations, though she ran into Samuel Hamilton so often, and in such unexpected situations, that after a while they would say hello to one another.

Book Recommendation Wednesday!

I’m going to start presenting my favorite book of the week, for the non-illiteration “Book Recommendation Wednesday!”
I would also love to hear things that I should be reading! Some of my favorite authors, Calvino, Pamuk, etc. have been from suggestions, so please comment / message / etc.

This week I’ve chosen (*drum roll*), No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. When I first heard of this collection of short stories, I knew it was suppose to be odd. Yet even with that mindset, I was shocked by the book. By the first story I was confused, shocked, awed. July types your deepest secrets, the off-putting fantasies you dream about and realities that you could never see on television. The experience of reading it is unique. Cover-to-cover, you will probably be done in one sitting.

Admittedly, this is not a novel for everyone. The manner of writing is uncomfortable, voiceless yet very distinct. For those readings, I’ve chosen Euphoria, a novel that needs some time to get into, unlike No One Belongs Here More Than You, but once King hits her stride the novel is truly astounding.
5/20

Meeting Lily King

(terrible pic, sorry, I was in the back)

Lily King bought Margaret Mead’s biography from a store without ever thinking she was going to read it. When she finally did she thought, that would make a great story, but she never thought that she was going to write it. Now look at us, she’s a top selling author, and I’m right here blogging about her!

Anyways, I don’t go to book signings often, but Lily King was in the area so I was like Ahhh, gotta go. She was at a local book store, talking about her writing process, how she came upon the  topic for Euphoria and took questions. It was pretty cute because King writes in a notebook her entire story. Thats right, there is a notebook out there with all of Euphoria written in it. Don’t you feel just.. euphoric?

She also talked about how the book was originally in Mead’s point of view, then it shifted to her lover’s over time because she felt like she identified more with him. It was interesting to hear how King approached the story from a very flexible point of view. Though it is inspired by Margaret Mead’s life, she changed a lot of the details as she was writing the story.

Overall, she was a very humble and humbling person to meet, (ps, her hair is really that great in person too!). If you have the chance, read Euphoria!