just finished Freedom by Jonathan Franzen after a hard-won 8 hour reading marathon (the result of mucho self-entitlement after 3 grueling finals in 4 days). i’d started before A’s visit the weekend before and was completely stolen away into the sluggish depression of Patty and suburban america. D had apparently tried reading it before but gave up on account of the book being far too depressing for him to handle. and god how depressing the first half was! i was so completely entangled in Patty’s pet miseries and peculiar blindness to her toxic relationships that i could not enjoy the weekend with A. Walter reminded me of A, with his unrequited goodness and sweet but hopeless disposition with women. the whole weekend, i couldn’t get over the similarity and despaired for A to meet such a Patty (not that we are anything alike but i have an unfailing propensity to over-relate with fictional characters) and be so undeservedly smited for his goodness and relentless pursuit of difficult women. it was a complete relief to see Walter become the unexpected star of the drama and see the damaged people he loved outlove each other in their love for him. good guys do win. so now it is nearly 5am, 3 hours past the time i would have given up on my lecture notes and gone to bed but i cannot go to sleep. not while the Berglunds are still more alive to me than the wet world outside and certainly not while i am still cringing from the ending. it was beautiful in every way except that it finished on a note which smacked of a cheesy reminder of something that could not have been. oh i’m speaking in riddles, but only because i hate divulging oversimplified details and explaining anything – i save that stuff for the journalism assignments, hey. Franzen is probably the closest equivalent i’ve read to the modern Tolstoy. he brings you inside the heads of the gentrifying american middle class, mires you in the trivial but smothering absurdities of surburbia, and yet glues you to the extraordinary ordinary lives of his characters, who are so real i cannot stop… feeling them. i see Walter and Patty nuzzling in bed after 6 years of separation next to me when i flip onto one side, slick Joey and impenetrable Connie finally cemented in an open and happy marriage on the other.
all these imagined happy couplings are making me pine for monday. just 3 more days before christmas break delivers me into the arms of the version of Walter i know!