I finished reading Jonathan Franzen's latest novel, Freedom, last night. If you've never heard of him or the book, a quick Google search will suffice. The book is practically on every top ten list, made Oprah's book club list, blah, blah, blah... you get the picture. It's highly regarded modern literature.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, a sweeping tale of modern love and loss, family relationships coloured by dysfunction, politics gone awry, and people struggling with "how" to live. It was completely engrossing until I reached the very end.
To spend an entire book, indeed hundreds of pages, demonstrating that the couple at the center of the story, Walter and Patty, are basically poison for each other, only to have them get back together at the end makes no sense to me. Dear Mr. Franzen: WTF? Is there something my sophomoric mind isn't grasping?
This story deserved a better ending, not some nauseatingly schleppy Hollywood denouement. Frankly, I expected more from you. I was sorely disappointed. What was the meaning of this? That it's better to settle than to spend your life alone? That Walter and Patty were able to rise above it all and forgive each other? That we must learn to forgive or we simply can't move on with our lives?
All these are interesting themes but somehow don't fit with this story. It felt more like some form of Deus ex machina, an unnatural end to a seemingly organic tale. It celebrates dysfunction, it supports a relationship based on lies and abandonment of the self. I don't get it.
Unless your point is that most relationships today are based on these things rather than built on truth, respect for self and others, and veritable compatibility. If that's the case, then you've succeeded.
However, it still doesn't soften my disappointment. I can't quite shake the feeling that the ending was a cop-out of some sort.
But hey, that's just my opinion.