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.

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