Thursday, December 2, 2010

More On 'Freedom': This Is Why Book Clubs Exist

Comments from a pair of friends on my review of Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" remind me why literature is often more enriching -- for me anyway -- if you have fellow readers to discuss it with.

Andrew and Leslie both made me pause about my assertion that Patty, the novel's central female character, is a "thoroughly unexceptional" woman, unworthy of the struggle that takes place between the two main male characters.

Andrew first:
Look, Patty may or may not be an especially remarkable woman. But these two dudes are in a serious long term pissing contest. It could be over a patch of dirt and they'd both think it was remarkable. I don't think it's the hold she has on them that's central to the novel, it's the hold the two men have on each other *through* her. And that's left her a little...empty.
Leslie second:
Patty was a dedicated mother, house renovator, and gutsy defender of her neighborhood. She licked her own wounds after being raped, no thanks to her parents, and still managed to forgive her father and find peace with him in his final days. I found her quite remarkable, and by far my favorite character.
Both comments widened my perspective of the novel; Leslie's comment actually made me feel as though I'd been unbearably sexist -- because, well, I probably had been. I thank my friends for taking time to chime in with valuable perspectives.

1 comment:

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Yet another reason why I'm waiting for a job in my field to open up in Philly: I could start a book club with Joel!