Thanks to the Atlanta-Fulton County Library, I finally have in my hands Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom," the novel that caused such a late summer stir. I'd put a hold on the book when it first came out and was pleasantly surprised that it finally came to me. In the past, I've put holds on books and never received them.
The book started off fine; Franzen has the gift of drawing the reader into his work and efficiently giving a great deal of narrative information. However, I've now reached the dubious second chapter, an autobiography of one of the main characters, Patty, written, according to Franzen's conceit, at the suggestion of her therapist. This filled me with foreboding, with some of the book's negative reviews echoing from deep within. The device struck me as contrived and manipulative; I'll keep reading, but fear I could hit rough waters here.
Meanwhile, I'm also trying to finish Tom Rachman's "The Imperfectionists," an homage to old-time Euroepean journalism. The book tells the saga of a small newspaper based in Rome, built on character sketches of a number of colorful characters. The book evokes the romance of foreign correspondents and expatriate adventures. That spirit appeared lost to those of us who grew up imbibing it; thanks to Rachman for rekindling it.