I finished reading Franzen's new novel, Freedom. Nothing extraordinary goes on in the story, but every page is extraordinary. Set in New York City, Washington D. C. and some rural counties of "the land of the free" during the Bush administration years, the narrator tells in detail and with psychological incisiveness (which is what makes every page so good, along with the strong dialogues) all about the members of a common, upper-middle-class family, the Berglund's, and a few neighbors, lovers, and friends of theirs; about the mistakes they make, due to too much freedom, while trying to lead their lives and deal with each other's and their own peculiarities. This is a story about nearly ruining everything in one's life, and, eventually, achieving a happiness of some sort. The best book I've read in a long time.
On the chance that, regarding Patty's parents, a note of complaint or even outright blame has crept into these pages, [Patty] here acknowledges her profound gratitude to Joyce and Ray for at least one thing, namely, their never encouraging her to be Creative in the Arts, the way they did with her sisters. Joyce and Ray's neglect of Patty, however much it stung when she was younger, seems more and more benign when she considers her sisters, who are now in their early forties and living alone in New York, too eccentric and/or entitled-feeling to sustain a long-term relationship, and still accepting parental subsidies while struggling to achieve success they were made to believe was their special destiny. It turns out to have been better after all to be considered dumb and dull than brilliant and extraordinary. This way, it's a pleasant surprise that Patty is even a little bit Creative, rather than an embarrassment that she isn't more so.
Special PS: If you're reading this: I miss you, Kris.