Jonathan Franzen’s Best Book Yet At last he’s put aside the pyrotechnics and gone all in on his great theme: the American family.
“Jonathan franzen writes big books about small lives. This may sound like a curious characterization of a writer who has sweated to position himself as an encyclopedic chronicler of wide-scale cultural change in each of his five fat novels to date, the shortest of them clocking in at 517 pages. Yet his fiction is typically set in claustrophobic enclaves. His characters don’t hail from New York or Los Angeles, or even Boston or Minneapolis, but from the margins of already marginal cities. The protagonist of his debut, The Twenty-Seventh City (1988), languishes not in the eponymous city of St. Louis but in the unassuming suburb of Webster Groves, where Franzen himself grew up. The Corrections (2001), the book that launched him to celebrity, centers on the fictional midwestern suburb of St. Jude. In keeping with his commitment to the local, his latest novel, Crossroads—which is nearly 600 pages long and is only the first installment of a trilogy, the rather grandiosely titled A Key to All Mythologies—unfolds in the township of New Prospect, outside Chicago proper.”