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Old 04-26-2016, 05:36 AM View Post #4 (Link)
Dabs (Offline)
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Join Date: Aug 2011
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Well, Franzen is a pompous ass, so there you go. lol

I'm going to aggressively disagree with you about the cast of Game of Thrones, especially in relation to Franzen's work. I find that cast largely human and moving--even some of the more "evil" people have their vulnerable moments--whereas Franzen only has Patty going for him as far as complex, human characters go. Walter is kind of a whipping boy and, and while he is a bit sympathetic I feel like he's just there so I can feel bad for him. Joey and Richard are just grating. I've read part of The Corrections, the book that came before Freedom, and it's apparent to me that Franzen has this thing where he thinks he's better than his characters, and it makes it so difficult to see them as human and complex. There's a way to write unlikeable or grotesque characters, but he's rather far from being the master, and he'll never be great at it if he holds himself above them.

The reflection is between Walter and Joey feels spot on, but there's still so much that's not addressed about Joey and Connie's (is that her name?) relationship. It feels like such a cop-out that the abusiveness isn't addressed in a substantial way. It's just mentioned a little by Connie's mom, if I remember correctly, and then nothing changes about them and then they get their happy ending with no implication that something more complex is at work. And I guess if he really is a reflection of his father, his relationship will just pan out in a similar way to Walter's, but I dunno. I didn't get that sense at all. I felt like Franzen just didn't explore the dynamics of Joey and Connie's relationship.

I guess I don't care if something is different if I don't see a point to it. If it's different for the sake of being different, then I end up just wishing that it were normal so I wouldn't have to puzzle out why it is the way it is. And, granted, I'm sure there's a reason Franzen wrote it that way, but the content of the story is so conventional that I just don't see what the structure is illuminating that would be lost in a standard novel format.
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