Thursday, May 19, 2011

Such a DNFer

Whoever put this image together should be flogged by the literature gods.
 I said it earlier in the week, but I'm a total DNFer when it comes to Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. Sadly, I was REALLY EXCITED about this book going into it. Jill and I set up a buddy read, we were being humorous about it via e-mail. Then I hit page 55 and wanted to hurl the damn thing into the nearest rock quarry with a cement block tied to its ankle.

Jill already posted her half of the conversation over at Fizzy Thoughts, but here's mine...

May 9th: Hey lady! You mentioned possibly buddy reading Freedom a while back. Still interested? I have a copy but it's scaring me. :(

May 10th (in response to Jill's being exhausted from taking the book off the shelf): It is quite the chunk. It's been forever since I've read a "real" book this big. Afraid it might throw my back out.

May 11th (procrastinating already): I didn't bring my big chunky copy with me to work, so I'll be trying to make a dent tonight when I get home. This is one of those instances when I REALLY wish I had an e-reading copy!

May 12: I was trying to finish up the last few pages of The Summer Without Men last night and this afternoon, but I spent a chunk of time this morning before work digging into Freedom. I'm just past the weird mention of 9/11 on page 26. It seemed totally irrelevant to the situation and more like a stop on Franzen's checklist of crap to include in these poor, vapid creatures' lives. Although, part of me wonders if that'll play a role in what's-his-face's turn to dirty politics that I assume is coming later.

I have a hard time with 9/11 in novels in general. I'm not necessarily that person that thinks it's "too soon" or anything, I just haven't read a book that handles or says anything significant about it in a new way. It's just this nebulous turning point in a lot of books these days.

I have to say, after the first section, my heart SANK to see that the second section is prissy Patty's autobiography. REALLY? Although, she does seem like the type to go on about herself in 3rd person for serious number of pages.

Also May 12th: Page 55 -- ONLY PAGE 55 -- and plucking out my nosehairs one at a time would be more pleasurable.

May 12th (again!): I'm only on page 60-something and I loathe these jerks. Quittin' time!!! Still baffled by why people think Franzen is so friggin' great!

I'm all onboard with detail too, but this is inane, obnoxious, want to throw this coworker who won't shut up off the roof detail. Byatt which I just finished was breathtaking was finely crafted and beautiful and fulfilling. Absolutely nothing remotely fulfilling about Freedom. I'm so glad you're a quitter too. Down with pathetic books!

May 12th (still): ...we should do this again with a book that doesn't suck. :D

Annnd that pretty much says it all. I have to say, Franzen's writing isn't bad -- he's humorous, sarcastic, and air of the pompous jerk about him. But DEAR GOD the detail. Detail about people I didn't like, wasn't pulling for, was actually hoping would meet their demise Donnie-Darko style with a jet engine to the roof. At the end of the day, it's not the detail that killed this book for me. It was all the jerks in it. All the unlikeable people that I did not give a crap about. Unpleasant, selfish, pathetic.

I'm also offended by the professional reviewers I've read who say that Americans no longer want books that read like a long conversation. Actually, reviewers, I just don't want a book that reads like a long conversation with the worst of the English graduate school set.  I want finesse! Not pessimistic vomit!

I'm going to hose myself off on the patio.


  1. That's pretty much how I felt about The Corrections, so I haven't been keen to pick this one up.

  2. Yeahhh, not so much. I haven't tried The Corrections and probably won't now!

  3. What a great morning laugh -- thanks!

    My feeling is, everything he writes is from the perspective of being a child. A wronged child.

  4. Andiloo,

    Have you seen Dennis Leary's trailer for Why We Suck? He compares his book to Freedom and tells you why you should read it *instead*. I couldn't get through the Leary book because it was too crude for my taste, but the trailer is hilarious.

    I'm avoiding Franzen, although I used to have a copy of The Corrections. I've read so many reviews saying his books are overblown and irrtating that I've just kept putting him off. Maybe a good thing, eh?

  5. I could not finish this book either and I was so upset with Oprah for loving it.

  6. I have no clue why my comment was anonymous...sorry

  7. Still laughing over the nosehairs comment.

    I stuck the book back on the shelf, because now I don't know what to do with it. For sure I'll never read it. But it's not like I want to give it to anyone, either...that would be so mean!

  8. I really hated The Corrections, so I don't have high hopes for this one. I may give it a shot at some point or another.

  9. There's a part of me that wants to grab this book off my TBR shelf and throw it away after reading ya'lls reviews and comments...but then there's that sneaky part of me that wants to grab it and read it just because...
    yes, I was a mischevious did you know??

  10. Loved your comments. Made me chuckle.

  11. I snorted when I was reading this. My pretentious ex-coworker recommended The Corrections to me, and the fact that he liked it made me suspect it too was pretentious. Now I feel sure that it is. Moreover, I cannot keep Jonathan Safran Foer and Jonathan Franzen straight, but have mildly negative feelings toward both of them, exacerbated by my frustration at being unable to keep them apart. Down with the Jonathan Fs!

  12. You did better than I did -- I only made it to about page 30 before I gave up on Freedom.

  13. I love this! You had me laughing so hard here. I haven't read Freedom, but I've heard some mixed emotions about it all over the place. Your post was just hilarious in the way you explained your DNF status here! :)

  14. Kelly, I like that perspective!

    Nancyloo, I haven't seen the Leary trailer, but I'll give it a look! Crude or not, I still might prefer it to Franzen! :)

    Sandra, but did Oprah reallyyy love it? It does make me wonder. It was also AWESOME press to have him back as a book club choice after the Corrections cluster and him actually show up, talk, and not act like such an arse!

    Jill, if you feel like smacking any burglars or pressing flowers, you have the perfect device! Maybe a quesadilla or panini press as well.

    Good luck with it if you give it a go, Lola. Wanna know your thoughts!

    Patti, I would be the exact same way. But if you're missing some nosehairs after you read it, don't look at me!!! ;)

    Thanks, Fem!

    Amen, Jenny! Down with the Jonathan Fs! In the case of Franzen, I threw his book (Everything is Illuminated) after page 29. :)

    Suzanne, I wanted to quit at page 30. I was still enduring for Jill at that point. haha

    Thanks, Becky! Brutal honesty -- that's what it's all about! :)

  15. Haha... love this post. Good for you for putting aside a book that just wasn't working for you. Doubt I'll get to Franzen any time soon. Would like to try one of his books eventually but goodness they are such chunksters.

  16. Haha, I haven't tried to read Franzen, but I had this exact same experience on a buddy read with Heather from Capricious Reader! We tried to read In a Dark Wood Wandering and struggled SO MUCH we both felt so relieved to drop it.

  17. You may have permanently scared me away from this one!

  18. I agree wholeheartedly with your reaction to Freedom. The Corrections was pretty much the same formula so I wouldn't bother trying it. I also agree with The Great Gatsby being included in that picture but I actually liked Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I've never read Faulkner. He's probably not the easiest to get through.

  19. LOL! This review cracked me up. I remember I went out and spent $25 on The Corrections (and I am a library user) just because I appreciated his stand against Oprah. $25 down the toilet. I was so mad. Won't be picking this one up any time soon, either.

    In all fairness, though, his book of essays How to Be Alone had some really good bits.


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