Crossroads Reviewed in The New York Times

September 27, 2021

Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Crossroads,’ a Mellow, ’70s-Era Heartbreaker That Starts a Trilogy

Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, “Crossroads,” is the first in a projected trilogy, which is reason to be wary. Good trilogies rarely announce themselves as such at the start. And the overarching title for the series, “A Key to All Mythologies,” may be a nod to “Middlemarch,” but it also sounds as if Franzen were channeling Joseph Campbell, or Robert Bly, or Tolkien, or Yes.

And yet here’s the novel itself, and it’s a mellow, marzipan-hued ’70s-era heartbreaker. “Crossroads” is warmer than anything he’s yet written, wider in its human sympathies, weightier of image and intellect. If I missed some of the acid of his earlier novels, well, this one has powerful compensations.


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