Barack and Helen–Fans of Freedom

Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom doesn’t come out until next Tuesday, but it’s already big, big news in the publishing world. Franzen’s first novel The Corrections was a smash hit (and won the National Book Award for Fiction… and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award… and was picked as an American Library Association Notable Book), and expectations are high for his follow-up book.

The story got even bigger recently when President Obama was given an advance reading copy during a recent visit to the Bunch of Grapes bookstore on Martha’s Vineyard.

We here at Magers & Quinn also received an advance copy of the book from the publisher, and while we weren’t able to give it to the President, we did find it a good home. It went to a beloved former employee, Helen Schnoes. She was kind enough to take time out of her studies to send us a quick review:

“It seems right that Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Freedom, comes at the end of summer. This book (like Franzen) repudiates the notion of a novel as a quick beach read to breeze through in a weekend, the content of which never breaks the surface. Acute detail and care pervades the whole novel–always necessary to the story. As a Minnesotan, I found Franzen’s rendering of our state to be spot on–he got all the names and references right. From ancestry dating back generations to a prominent change of narration to a few paragraphs following the migration of songbirds, each stylistic choice works to bring the novel one level deeper, to see his characters clearer, and to further enthrall the reader. In Freedom, Franzen has created a powerful examination of the U.S. today, infusing the novel with the cultural-political anger and literary passion that make his essays so enjoyable. I do wonder how a reader with more conservative political views would react to the novel, but hope that
regardless of partisanship, all readers connect with the complex characters he’s created and the unspectacular, recognizable difficulties and relationships that fill their lives.”

Freedom will be available August 31. Stop by the store to preorder a copy today.–David E