I have to admit I'm a bit weary of all the hoopla surrounding Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I'm disappointed too that Oprah is picking him again for her Book Club (Oprah and Franzen have mended ways: check out Oprah's Book Club announcement here; and good to hear she will be recommending more books onward!) not only because the book is already such a success but also because he was such an ungrateful twit the first go around. What strikes me most about Freedom is that Franzen isn't a poetic writer. He's more an acute journalist, often telling more than showing--pegging people as Republicans or Democrats. This fast-paced style and his flawed, memorable characters stuck in the Bush years are what make the book so tremendously entertaining. I was struck too by the ending which I think is one of the finest I've read in a contemporary novel in years. I recommend reading the always thoughtful Meghan O'Rourke and her Slate essay on the "Franzen flap." And Charles Baxter's (a very good novelist) acute analysis of the book.
Ron Silliman offers an interesting perspective on what I thought were the few pesky character flaws in the film The Kids Are All Right. (I could not help wondering, the morning after I saw The Kids, what it means when a good character, someone whom the audience is obviously intended to identify with, the absolute center of this film, does something despicable. In the case of Moore’s character, it’s that she fires her assistant... Moore, like every other main figure, gets her comeuppance in the end, but not for this.)