Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
The Short Take:
There’s no doubt Franzen is an exceptional novelist. His latest book is an excellent example of his elevated craft. With connections and coincidences worthy of Charles Dickens, his characters move from various American locations to Germany to South American. Complex without being complicated, it explores loyalties and the many facets of what purity means.
This is yet another novel that jumps around in time, place, and character. However this time those jumps work perfectly to fully reveal the main characters: their flaws, their strengths, their growth, their pursuit of a personal ideal of purity.
Franzen gives his characters plenty of space to evolve. Sometimes they can be as frustrating to the reader as real people are, with all their inconsistencies and irrational desires. There’s exceptional darkness as well as delightful humor. It’s our world, with all its hypocrisy and heroism.
Ultimately there’s something very satisfying about how Franzen reveals the interconnectedness of his characters. While you are still left with questions, you feel his novel has fulfilled its purpose.
A Little Plot:
The title character, who prefers to go by Pip, is a young woman struggling to pay a $130,ooo student loan as well as find her footing in life. Her greatest wish is to know who her father is, something her eccentric mother refuses to reveal.
Her search takes her to a remote South American enclave devoted to revealing the world’s secrets and to an internship for an on-line journalism venture. She forms intense relationships, not all of which are what she supposes them to be.
And, Pip is just one of the main characters who sweep you through their worlds and pains.
Jonathan Franzen doesn’t appear to have a dedicated website, but there’s plenty of information about him and his books on line.