Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
Given the critical praise this has received, and the qualified admiration I have for Franzen's earlier novel The Corrections, this was a real clunking disappointment. It's another attempt at the Great American Novel that falls a mile short of similar works by, say, Don DeLillo or Philip Roth.
Basically a family saga about a pretty unlikeable bunch, the main problem is a general flatness. I can cope with unsympathetic characters but not when they are a bit dull. They all speak in the same smart-ass, stylised way regardless of age/gender/personality, and when the third person narration is taken over by the main protagonist the prose is identical. As a consequence, I didn't believe in any of them.
The plot doesn't help either, a rambling and episodic plod through various, often unrelated events. For example right at the end we get a lengthy description of the break-up of an inheritance involving characters we've barely encountered before. Am I supposed to care?
Very poor, then, and way too long.