This might be the most devastating book I’ve ever read. At the same time one of the most amazing. He has such amazing insight. A most accurate and extremely sharp mirror he holds up to society and its ills but on a micro-level. Human miserable existence as it grows from the individual, from our families, our relationships.
Our foibles, jealousies, ambitions, best of intentions all conspire to make us miserable – prisoners of our own feeble bodies, longing for understanding, relationships, power. We’re all like children not quite sure what we’re doing, just trying to survive even though all of it is possibly against us. Needless to say this is not an uplifting inspirational novel. More like a medieval treatus on the sins of humanity and how we are destined for hell. But more of a Sartrean hell where it is us and each other.
On the other hand this is a writers and a readers novel – some of the passages are just expertly writ. Beautiful poetry. There are quite a few characters here, both genders in all stages of their lives and not a moment feels false – their external actions, dialogues and internal motivations all ring true and all feel like reflections of ourselves or those who are closest to us. Throughout I marveled at Jonathan Franzen’s skill, and kept asking myself how did he do it, truly amazing.