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The New Criterion

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- John O’Sullivan

Fiction Chronicle

November 2010

Speak for yourself

by Stefan Beck

On Freedom, 03, A Visit from the Goon Squad & Dogfight, A Love Story.

The advance copy of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom came with a bonus CD.[1] I’m not sure what was on it. Perhaps Franzen reading his novel’s twenty-six-page prologue? A “book trailer”? A Sims™ module in which you, too, can alienate your neighbors while helping to gentrify St. Paul’s Ramsey Hill neighborhood? I’ll never know. I threw it out, to subtract a few ounces from the tare weight of this 562-page boxcar of a novel. But, as we now know, that CD was the least of the extratextual fanfare trailing Freedom into the public eye.

First there was an accidental endorsement when President Obama was photographed with the book on vacation. Then came the critic ...

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Stefan Beck is a writer living in Hudson, New York. He has contributed on fiction and other subjects to The Wall Street Jounral, The New York Sun, and elsewhere.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 29 November 2010, on page 30

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Facing the music

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Reviews of Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho, Fight Song by Joshua Mohr, The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte, and The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud.

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