It’s a pretty safe bet that anyone who finishes Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections will 1.) immediately urge someone else to read it and 2.) immediately ask where Franzen’s next novel is. There’s been no satisfactory answer to that question for years, at least not until summer of 2009, when the New Yorker printed a Franzen piece that gave readers a taste of the long-awaited next novel.
We’ve known for a while that Freedom will be released in September—and as the publication date nears, some details on the book have been appearing. In the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Galassi, Franzen’s editor, said the novel was “a very powerful, amazing book about the disillusion of marriage. It’s about the challenges and costs of personal freedom, and the burdens of it and the opportunities of it. It’s about ecology, personal politics and general issues; it’s about Iraq.”
Here’s our summary of the summary: Freedom centers on Patty and Walter Burglund, a couple who lead the first wave of eco-conscious city-dwellers to colonize a slowly gentrifying neighborhood in St. Paul. They’re “pioneers of Whole Foods” who lead an exemplary yuppified lifestyle—until they don’t. Suddenly their son would rather live in the McMansion next door with their Republican neighbors; Walter is working for a coal company and Patty is falling apart.
Complete publisher description after the jump. Will Freedom be as timely and engrossing as The Corrections? Will Oprah read it? Will you?
From Farrar, Straus & Giroux:
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul–the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter–environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man–she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz–outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival–still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?