I am 2/3 into Franzen’s Purity, and I find myself disliking the characters, and therefore, the whole book. (And truth be told, I am starting to dislike the author himself.) I read The Corrections many moons ago and I really liked it. I was able to relate to the Chip character, and I loved Enid, the mother.

So I read Freedom. And it was just okay. But I did feel back then that the characters were a bit much. They thought about things too much, made things overly complicated. And now with Purity, it’s Freedom TIMES TEN because nearly ALL the characters are overthinkers, are preoccupied with sex, and therefore have all of these twisted pseudo-Freudian issues with almost everyone else.

I feel exhausted reading this novel. And it makes me retroactively dislike Freedom and gasp even The Corrections. It seems to me that Franzen’s characters are insufferable.

Which leads me to think, are all realist novels like this, i.e. depressing? I know that realism intends to indict the present and explore the human psyche…but is Franzen saying that we are all insufferable overthinkers?

I have been reading different stuff lately, mostly genre, and this is my return to the realist mode, and it is a bit jarring to me.

Source: reddit post


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