This is a book I read accidentally in abridged form. I don't like abridged books normally. People say Jonathan Franzen is literary hot shit, but I don't get it. The main character's are Enid (a typical middle American house wife), Alfred (an old man in need on home care rather severely), Chip (a thirty something with a thing for young girls), Gary (a family man with mental health issues), and Denise (a closeted dyke).
Parts of this book are confusing. One entire disk was about excrement (I kid you not). The first two disks and the last two make sense. I'd rate this book a 6 out of 10. It has a lot to analyze form a disability rights perspective- home care, nursing homes, and mental illness. A terribly haunting sentence "The one thing he never forgot was how to refuse." It was about when the old man decided not eat after being at the nursing home for two years. I'm of two minds on this regard. In one, I'm sorry that the man didn't have advantages like home and community based services. On the other hand, I'm glad he finally figured out how to take control of his life back and was lucid enough to do so. It's a hard decision.
In my opinion, listen to the first two discs of this book and the last two. The story will make much more sense that way. And unless you're really into esoterica, you'll be a much more sane reader. I can see why they say that Jonathan Franzen is amazing. He writes some really pretty prose. I just wish it made more sense. God, this man needs an editor! I really hope that nothing will ever sound that obtuse. If it does, in my opinion, publishers are right to reject it. Lucky for me, I'm not a literary fiction girl. If I had to write this I think I would hate writing. Goodness knows what would become of me at that point.