Free for what?

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.


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