Wednesday, January 5, 2011


It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you - Taylor Swift

(I don't think Franzen would mind the Swift quote. Pop book, pop song, it's all just chicklets/candy anyway.)

During the Christmas break, I finished reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. There are a lot of different ways to feel this book. I had never considered that it was about anything other than marriage, until I talked with a friend about the book. Maybe Freedom is like a Rorschach test to determine the most difficult relationship in your life.

For me, Freedom is about marriage. The marriage of Walter and Patty Burglund.
When I read it, I would go from feeling my marriage was superior to that of Walter and Patty. And then something would be a little too familiar and I would feel shame. Shame for feeling superior. Because, during a dark moment, don't we all feel like the whole thing is just about over?

The book includes a section where the character Patty writes her autobiography to explain that "mistakes were made". God, what a completely heartbreaking utterance. Mistakes were made.

Early Christmas Eve morning, 30 pages from completion, I read the letter Patty wrote to Walter, explaining how she wanted him back:
"She can imagine that, if she could somehow be with Walter again, and feel secure in his love again, and get up from their warm bed in the morning and go back to it at night knowing that she's his again..."
"It comes to her day after day, year after similar year, this yearning for his face and his voice and his anger and his kindness, this yearning for her mate."

After reading this, I closed the book. Rolled over, into my husband's arms and thanked god for Franzen and fiction. And for Brian. And for knowing that this is just the story of a marriage and mistakes will be made.

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