Books

Purity by Jonathan Franzen review – piercingly brilliant

 

theguardian.com – Tim Adams

Jonathan Franzen’s emergence as a great comic novelist coincided with the death of his father and the end of his childless, 12-year marriage in divorce. The Corrections of 2001 was in many ways a heartfelt fictional response to those inadvertently liberating events; it carried the mature writer’s sense of tragic absurdity, which finds its best expression in the things we do, willingly or not, for love.

The two novels Franzen published prior to The Corrections – Strong Motion and The Twenty-Seventh City – were too self-consciously advertisements for his technical gifts as a writer; clever without ever quite ringing true, the risks they took were rarely those of self-exposure. Since The Corrections, Franzen has written determinedly with his ideal reader, a collaborator in nuance and drollery, in mind.

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