After reading the amazing “Parent and Child Literature Pairing” article that Minh Le wrote for the NY Daily News‘ “PageViews” blog, From Dr. Seuss to Dostoevsky: A literary guide for the new parent, I need to sit down with Minh and talk about his take on Franzen’s “Freedom.”
After reading Freedom, I now have the worst take on environmentalism and activism in my entire life. Walter Berglund is the worst type of person. First of all, he’s a secret depopulist and maybe a bit of a closet eugenicist who’s authentic goal is to remove the human parasite from as much of Earth as possible, under the guise of “speaking for the trees.” Or, in this case, “speaking for a very particular migrating bird.”
The worse thing about Walter is that his altruism, his beauty, his nobility, and his mission is not pure. He’s a bait-and-switch artists, he’s an insufferable prig, and his lead energies are fear and insecurity. By the end of the novel, I fancied that everyone still considered Walter such a noble man to be most of the problem.
There was nobody (except nature) that Walter had any respect for (except, fleetingly, for his son Joey, but only situationally and after a large cash contribution of “dirty money” to the mission)
I don’t think Walter had any true respect for Lalitha except for the idea of her and that she loved him — how narcissistic is that? To be honest, Lalitha is more authentic than Walter by leaps and bounds as she is openly an opportunist and operator, she openly plays politics and has no illusions of deceit.
Additionally, the fact that Lalitha refused to have children means that she lived by her own principals as opposed to falling back to the “do as I say, not as I do” theory of noblesse oblige arrogance). Well, anyway…
I daresay, in Walter’s attempt to save the world and to protect the birds and to depopulate the world and to muzzle bird-hungry domestic cats, Walter-the-demagogue (and Walter the self-important Demiurge) is more dangerous destroyer than re-builder, more Shiva than Gaea.
So, I really must have this conversation soon with Minh, Aimee, Oliver, and David as well as others. I realise that I really have not chatted with anyone as to my come-away from the depths and majesty of the novel Freedom.
Have you read this amazing book? I would love to chat more about it but I have just a little bit left to read. There might be a bombshell in the very end that turns this entire thing around in my mind.
- Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom – is it really the novel of the century? (rottenbooks.wordpress.com)
- Sabina Murray: On the Women of Freedom and The Marriage Plot (huffingtonpost.com)
- HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #12: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (cannonballread4.wordpress.com)
- Freedom – A Review (macrospectra.com)
- Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom: The WOW! Factor in Contemporary Fiction (literaturesalon.wordpress.com)
- When Reality is Seemingly Condensed into 597 Pages (sittinginthestacks.wordpress.com)
- #305: The Walter Show (ilovethishusbandandwifestuff.com)
- PHOTOS: Jonathan Franzen And Other Authors Who Hate EBooks (huffingtonpost.com)
- Freedom (lifeismoremysterythanmisery.wordpress.com)
- Jonathan Franzen: E-readers are ‘damaging to society’ (csmonitor.com)