Jonathan Franzen. JFranz. The Fran-Fran Man. Some people love to hate him. Others hate to love him. After reading his latest, Purity, I’m in the hate to love him camp. At worst his misogynistic, at best simply sexist, but his prose – the way he can string a sentence together – is bliss.
On so many levels Purity is a great book. I loved the structure, the way things come together. And as I’ve said, for me, Franzen truly knows how to craft a sentence. His vocabulary is astounding in a way that i really appreciate.
But there was so much about Purity that made me feel creepy. Franzen’s women are garbage. Not one really great female character. I get that sometimes characters have to be weak, flawed, needy, abused … you get the idea. But does that have to absolutely define all the female characters and none of the male? And let’s not forget his use of the word “pussy”. Too much. TOO MUCH.
Who would like this book? You pretty much already know if you’re going to read Purity or not, based on whether you’d read Franzen or not. I really liked The Corrections and loved Freedom, but Purity, while good, fell short for me. It definitely reads like Franzen and is easily identifiable as him, but either I’ve grown up or he’s become too Franzen-y. I’m left wondering whether or not I’ll pick up his next novel. Am I done with Franzen?
I’d like to thank Laura at Reading In Bed, the brains behind Franzen in February, for prompting me to read Purity. Finished just in time, and i knocked off another for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks.