Jonathan Franzen Goes Victorian

Crossroads: A Novel, by Jonathan Franzen, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2021), 592 pages.

Itโ€™s hard to write about Jonathan Franzen without rifling through his baggage. After all, thereโ€™s so much: his nasty divorce, his bird fixation, his Oprah feudโ€”I could go on ad infinitum. But I wonโ€™t. His controversies are generally tedious, and they detract from his fiction, which he is always improving. Especially in the past two decades, Franzen has consistently refined his craft, and with his latest novel, Crossroads, he has finally produced something truly worthwhile.

In Crossroads, Franzen drops his ideological pretensions in favor of simplicity, which for him means drilling deep into the rot of familial incoherence. The novel introduces the Hildebrandts, a brood of suburban Chicagoans...

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Sep 8th 2021
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