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Closet page skipper?


Jonathan Franzen - don't get me wrong, I really do love his books.  But as with every book lover (that's a sweeping generalisation, but I have the freedom to generalise), sometimes you just go through bit of a reading lull.

I found this when reading Franzen's Freedom.  I have had Freedom sitting there for yonks, but have been intimidated by its size.  Mainly because I had become used to reading YA novels, and I felt like I was back in those teenage years taking the first tentative steps into the ocean of adult literature.  I was daunted by the depth and complexity that I knew would sit beneath the lines.

I don't know why I make myself believe that every foray into adult literature needs to be such an exercise in analysis and insightful questioning.  It must be the high school English student in me has never really graduated.  Why can't I just relax and enjoy the book?  I did, for the most part, really enjoy reading Freedom, but I am ashamed to admit that once it hit the heavier end of the novel; the last 25% or so where there is much discussion about social policy, overpopulation, the environment and sustainability (all expertly woven into the narrative, of course), I just grew tired.  I skipped pages.  I never skip pages.  It feels like cheating.  I am secretly horrified if I abandon a novel altogether, and often force myself to go back and keep giving it another go, until I guiltily stuff the tome deep into my bookshelf in an attempt to hide my shame.  As I had already happily devoured 75% of Freedom, I was not going to give up.  I felt it would inevitably draw me back in (it did), and so I deployed a tactic that I have never been bold enough to use up until this point - I skipped.

I won't go into a plot summary here; suffice to say that if you read the blurb and a little on Jonathan Franzen's style, you'll get an idea of what to expect.  Would I still recommend Freedom as a read?  Yep.  It is an engaging story and it did, on a surprising number of occasions, prompt me to consider what freedom is, and the price we pay for our freedom to make choices.  I was happy to discover that the adult hemisphere of my brain was still functioning well.  I also made an effort to let myself enjoy the narrative of the story as a whole, rather than try to separate it into its meaningful parts.  Maybe reading all those YA novels has been good for me, or maybe the high school English student has just, finally, graduated.


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