I'm done. I finished The Beast. Jonathan Franzen's 568 page wonder, The Corrections and it only took me twenty-one days to get here. I had decided to not leave commentary for this book before I started reading it. Having made Oprah's book club and many best of the decade list, there isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said. It comes close to my 'no speaking of dead authors of the classics' rule, but happily Franzen is alive and (I hope) in good health, and able to provide us with many more ridiculous awesome offerings.
That said, I'm in no hurry to get to Freedom. In order for Franzen to 'get better,' at least by my definition, he is going to have to do something substantially different. As in, write about African's and the war in Sudan type different to really make an impression on me. Perhaps Freedom is such a book, but with knowing nothing about the book and only a little about the badass writer, I don't think it is. The summation of my 'not a commentary' is this: go read The Corrections, if you've yet to do so.
A few words about my journey through this behemoth, because that is what it was: a journey. I mentioned that I was reading it to the only co-worker I have at either job that I think is capable of reading and, naturally, she had year it years ago. "How far in are you?" she asked. "Just started it. About a hundred pages or so." The strongest part of the book, that which stuck with her for nearly ten years after reading was, "There was a part about a chaise lounge chair, and a scent and a stain..." I had passed that part and all I could do was laugh. More than anything else, that is what The Corrections is to her.
She is the only flesh and blood person I know (interweb people are something different, though not lesser) who reads more than me. She knows what she likes and doesn't like. She knows what's good and what's bad and she can explain why. "That book was amazing, but the whole chair, stain, scent thing really bothered me." That comment says more about her than Franzen.
At the other job, the one where it is okay if I read, a superior said, "I've read that! This is the book with that crazy ass dysfunctional family." I replied something to the affect that the family was normal as hell, only more honest than most, and that all families probably have similar problems and issues and that 'normal' probably doesn't exist. She agreed with me. Moments later a patron saw the book and my book mark and asked, "Are you really that far into that book?" I told her yes. She was in a state akin to awe. She got about a third of the way through and then put it down due to the "mundaneness." I was not in a spot where I could comment freely, but thought to myself, if the actions in this book are mundane to you than your family must all be histrionic or worse.
My 'boss,' only commented, "That book was fucked up." I asked, "Have you read Freedom yet?" "No. The other one was too fucked up for me to read Freedom." I'm not sure what all he meant but I understood, implicitly.
I accidentally went to a bookstore today. I didn't plan this trip; it really was an accident. I was going to the East Atlanta Beer Festival and happened to park directly across from Bound to be Read Books. I heard of it before, but never really get to this part of town. Small, well lit, too many damned cats; those seem to be the traits of a used book store. Worse than going to a book store, I bought books: sorry...
I've wanted Shogun in hard back since forever and now I have it in a two volume set marked 'Atheneum." I've no clue what that means... I also bought two novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch and Love in the Time of Cholera. My gut tells me neither will be as good as his short fiction but what is?
As to the beer fest. I officially don't like IPA's but Flying Dog Raging Bitch ain't bad, and neither is Dogfish Head, 90 or 120 minute. As to the good stuff, more on that later.