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Crossroads: A Novel de Jonathan Franzen

Crossroads: A Novel (original: 2021; edição: 2021)

de Jonathan Franzen (Autor)

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3231163,723 (4.06)3
Título:Crossroads: A Novel
Autores:Jonathan Franzen (Autor)
Informação:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2021), 592 pages

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Crossroads de Jonathan Franzen (2021)


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I have read everyone of Franzen's fiction books and I believe that this one is his best. I really enjoyed his take on religion and his characters relationship with God. As one who is not very religious, I found the influence of God into the character's day to day decisions to be outside my experience but one that I enjoyed about the novel. The book is set in 1971 in a white affluent suburb of Chicago. The main characters are Russ and Marian with Russ being an associate minister of the church. We get into the head of those 2 plus 3 of their 4 kids. Without givng too much away suffice it to say that this book does a great job dealing with intrafamily relationships while showing us how decision making that includes the lord impacts all decisions.. This is book one of a proposed triliogy by Franzen and I do hope he is able to move forward on this . This on its' own was a great book so I look forward to Franzen building on these characters. If you are into family sagas, then I suggest this book. Franzen is at the height of his powers and this is great introduction to an overhyped author who actually lives up to the hype. He is that good. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Dec 6, 2021 |
Character-rich exploration of faith via a minister's family in the 1970s midwest.
  beaujoe | Nov 27, 2021 |
It is the early 1970s and the Hildebrandt family of suburban Chicago is teetering on the brink of a full-blown crisis, although no one seems to know that yet. Russ and Marion, the parents, are increasingly bored with one another and mulling either a divorce or extramarital affairs (which, given that Russ is an associate pastor at their church, is not a trivial matter). Clem, the oldest son, is obsessed with Becky, the only daughter, who is herself equal parts vain and naïve. Perry, the middle son, is a manipulative substance abuser, while only the youngest child, Judson, seems well-grounded despite no one else in the family paying him much attention. Adding to this dysfunctional mix is the considerable tension at work, where an upstart younger minister who runs the wildly popular youth group threatens to usurp Russ’ place in the church hierarchy.

Crossroads is Jonathan Franzen’s latest midwestern-family-in-turmoil saga, following on the heels of The Corrections and Freedom, which successfully mined similar veins. The title of this novel is also a clever double entendre as ‘Crossroads’ is the name of the church youth program that is so pivotal to the story as well as an apt metaphor for where the Hildebrandt family finds itself. The tale is a sprawling one, told in alternating sections from the point of view of each family member—except for young Judson, of course—which also creates a somewhat disjointed narrative structure that bounced around considerably from present day events to filling in everyone’s backstory. In the case of Russ and Marion, these flashbacks were quite lengthy and, although useful for context, threatened to bog down the entire effort.

I enjoyed reading Crossroads, but I did not love it as I thought I would. For me, the greatest pleasure came from the author’s sharply observed characterizations of the whole Hildebrandt clan—except for young Judson, of course—as well as his descriptions of some complex family dynamics that felt genuine, for the most part. On the other hand, this acute attention to detail allowed the reader to notice flaws in the story development that became major distractions. Notably, there is no explanation given for Russ’ transition from an idealistic and committed young man to a selfish and self-absorbed middle-aged man. Likewise, it is hard to reconcile how the literally crazy young woman Marion once was could sustain any marriage, stodgy and failing as it is, for a quarter century. Finally, the ending, which updated the strained relationship between Becky and Clem, was quite flat and unsatisfying. So, this is a book I can recommend, but not without some hesitation. ( )
  browner56 | Nov 23, 2021 |
I found listening to audio book, even with a great narrator, tedious. I failed to have compassion for any of the members of the dysfunctional family. ( )
  brangwinn | Nov 23, 2021 |
Crossroads is my fourth venture into the remarkable writing of what critics have deemed the Updike of our generation. High praise- but though I don't see the observational exactness of Updike's sentences, I do agree that Franzen can capture the dysfunctional breakdown of a family like no other. This novel deals with the Hildebrandt family and gives voice to all but the youngest of the four children. The story is set in the suburbs of Chicago in the 70's. The father Russ is the Presbyterian pastor of the kind that is trying to start a rebirth in the church and get the youth involved in his missionary work in Arizona with the Navajo Indians. He is suffering from a recent embarrassment that has landed him on the outs with the youth group called Crossroads. He is unhappily married and in fact has eyes on a new parishioner, a young widow named Francis. " Indeed, she was sagless, pouchless, flabless, lineless, an apparition of vitality in a snug paisley sleeveless dress, her hair naturally blond and boyishly short, her hands boyishly small and square." His wife Marion tries to be a dutiful pastor's wife, but eventually we delve into her own complicated past. They have a son, Clem, away at school who questions the morality of using a deferment to counter an unlucky draft number; Becky, their popular, beautiful daughter finds herself falling in love with an up and coming singer, songwriter from the church; Perry, sarcastically smart, suffers from an over enjoyment of drinking and drugs that leads to serious issues. Finally the youngest, Judson, is bounced around by a family who takes for granted that he is a great kid and who is the only family member without a narrative part. However since we hear this is the first of a trilogy, perhaps we will see him in the future. Each of the characters begin to invade your life as you take on this 600+ page narrative, but the two or three week journey is compulsive as the Hildebrandts spiral into tragedy. Though I wish there was someone here a bit more likable, Franzen masterfully captures the tangled emotions of life. As one critic writes:"It’s an electrifying examination of the irreducible complexities of an ethical life. With his ever-parsing style and his relentless calculation of the fractals of consciousness, Franzen makes a good claim to being the 21st century’s Nathaniel Hawthorne." I look forward to the next chapter in what Franzen claims is "A Key to All Mythologies."

Perry, who could feel, literally in his bones, that he would end up as the physical runt of the Hildebrandt litter, his growth spurt, the year before, having resembled the bottle rocket that goes off at a faltering angle and dies with a dull pop.

The idea was that God was to be found in relationships, not in liturgy and ritual, and that the way to worship Him and approach Him was to emulate Christ in his relationships with his disciples, by exercising honesty, confrontation, and unconditional love.

She’d become invisible especially to her husband in this respect. Invisible to her kids as well—rendered featureless by the dense, warm cloud of momminess through which they apprehended her. Although she considered it possible that not one person in New Prospect actively disliked her, there was no one she could call a close friend.

She’d bought him the cheapest of cassette recorders, the kind of thing that an appliance store displayed to assure the buyers of other cassette recorders that they weren’t getting the worst one.

For twenty-five years, she’d believed that her life with Russ was the blessing she’d received from a forgiving God, a blessing she’d earned by her years of Catholic prayer and penance, a life she continued to earn daily by suppressing the badness in her and keeping her mouth shut.

Making her confession to Sophie had rolled the stone from a tomb of emotion, inside which, miraculously intact, she’d found her obsession with Bradley Grant.

The fact that Laura, after a moment, made a petulant, hand-flinging gesture of assent—the fact that she would never have done this if she hadn’t hit Becky, which wouldn’t have happened if Becky hadn’t fallen to her knees to pray, which wouldn’t have happened if the spirit of Christ hadn’t brought her to Laura’s apartment, which wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t found God in the sanctuary, which wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t smoked marijuana—seemed to Becky, as she followed Laura down the snowy stairs behind the drugstore, the most beautiful proof of God’s mysterious workings.

Annette was dry of wit, a junior at Grinnell, and had an oily, rough complexion that only added to her allure. She was close to Perry’s ideal, female-wise, and seemed approximately as attainable to him as the Andromeda Galaxy. ( )
  novelcommentary | Nov 19, 2021 |
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