At the center of Jonathan Franzen's much anticipated fourth novel are four characters. Richard Katz is a rock star who roams the world and amorally enjoys all the benefits of rock stardom, which include promiscuously using women. The other three characters come from one family: Walter Berglund, his spouse Patty Berglund and their son, Joey. The Berglunds are Minnesotans of Lutheran background and Scandinavian extraction—Lake Wobegonians adrift in a postreligious age. Like Richard the rock star, they are as cursed as they are blessed by a surfeit of freedom.