Saturday, November 6, 2021
Feast. A multi-course feast for readers who enjoy finely written literary fiction begins as Jonathan Franzen presents the first course, a novel titled, Crossroads, introducing the Hildebrandt family, mostly in the 1970s. Franzen polishes each family member’s character through finely written dialogue, backstory, and omniscient revelation of deep inner lives. Russ Hildebrandt is a hapless associate pastor at a suburban Chicago Protestant church, and he becomes something of a comic foil through his foibles and weaknesses. His wife, Marian, entered their marriage with secrets, and the more we discover her depths, the more we appreciate her rage, no longer repressed. The children are each developed with empathy and insight and face their own setbacks. While the title refers to a teen group at the church, it also describes and presents the turning places for each family member of the course of this novel. I loved this first course and found Franzen more sympathetic to these characters than he’d been with earlier novels. The religious themes in this novel can be examined by any reader through additional reflection, and there should be plenty of time to digest this novel before we are presented with the next installment. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Crossroads from amazon.com.