Saying that the reviews for Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom have been positive is like saying McDonald's has sold a few burgers. Running the gamut from “a work of total genius” (New York Magazine) to “a masterpiece” (The New York Times Book Review)—and those are just the local rags—the orgasmic praise is, frankly, a little daunting. The expectations for this book are so high (from readers, booksellers and the novel’s publisher) that even President Obama getting an A.R.C. from a bookseller while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard set off an industry panic attack.
As someone who read The Corrections with equal measures wonder and awe, I plan to get my copy of Freedom as soon as I can find my way to a bookstore when the book pubs next week. I worry, however, that, after all the early hosannas, I will find a comfortable chair, bribe my husband and four-year-old to give me a few hours of uninterrupted reading time, and find myself…disappointed. I am determined to come to the book with an open mind despite all the raves I’ve already been privy to, but Mr. Franzen is going to have to wow me anew before I jump on the laudatory bandwagon. I do feel for the guy, though. That mountain of praise is a long uphill climb.
Do you guys ever resent the media hype of big books (if I see one more Facebook post about Mockingjay…) and do you feel it negatively impacts your reading experience?