Monday, February 28, 2011


by Jonathan Franzen

Patty and Walter Berglund have always been different. They weren’t like their neighbors in Saint Paul: they were eager to gentrify, environmentally conscious, devoted to their family, and exceptionally friendly neighbors. Their perfect marriage and family seemed too good to be true!

When their family starts to crumble, the reader learns more about Walter and Patty: their childhoods, their friends, and their relationship, which began in college. Clearly, neither Patty nor Walter is perfect. So why should anyone expect their marriage and children to be perfect?

This is a fine example of Franzen’s obsession with dysfunctional families and his penchant for describing bodily functions. I liked parts of this novel, namely the character development and the Minnesota settings. What I didn’t like was the fat: crazy subplots and a general lack of editing.


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