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Kim Tomsic

Saturday, January 8, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: FREEDOM a Novel by Jonathan Franzen

If Ayn Rand and Jonathan Franzen Had a Baby, Her Name Would be FREEDOM

FREEDOM : A Novel by Jonathan Franzen was enthusiastically picked as Oprah's book club choice. Winfrey even touted it as possibly the “novel of the decade.” I'm a huge fan of Oprah and respect her taste, so I dutifully purchased a copy of the alleged masterpiece on my Kindle. I wish I had been warned that the spirit of Ayn Rand had possessed Franzen when he penned this novel. I might have reconsidered my choice. Franzen’s writing seems to be the twisted whisperings of Rand from the grave—a bit ATLAS SHRUGGED-ish but with a lot more sex. Both writers seem to favor long diatribes as well as a hands-off government, but Franzen is the environmentalist whereas Rand is the capitalist.

That said, I don’t regret reading FREEDOM (or ATLAS SHRUGGED), I’m just not running around telling my friends to purchase a copy. If Franzen were to read this, he’d probably laugh at my inadequate writing as well as feel complimented since Rand has a huge cult following. Furthermore, the book wasn’t completely painful since there were some great chapters (like Walter’s LBI speech). I understand why Oprah is attracted to the story—it’s smart, well written, and thought provoking. For Oprah, it's very much part of her world, like looking through a photo album of Stedman, Gayle, her dogs, and her friends. For a regular Joe like me, I found it tiring and only mildly entertaining, like looking at a photo album of a mere acquaintance’s family—tiresome. If you're a huge Rand fan or you’re into reliving the last quarter century of politics, then you're reading the right book.

• Farrar, Straus and Giroux $28.00 ISBN-10: 0312600844 (August 31, 2010)
Two-and-a-half (out of five)lollipop rating

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