Obama’s Advanced Copy of Franzen’s FREEDOM Causes Trouble

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

The New York Times is reporting that President Obama caused panic in the publishing world last week by accepting a copy of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

The vacationing President made headlines when he took his girls book shopping at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven on August 20th. Besides young adult books like The Hunger Games, the President left the bookstore with an advanced readers copy (ARC) of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. The people at Bunch of Grapes gave him the ARC as a gift, but some media outlets reported that he bought the book. That would have been a big no-no because Freedom is under a strict embargo until its release date of August 31st.

Apparently, as rumors of the broken embargo spread, other booksellers threatened to start selling the book early too. Bookstores were inundated with requests for Freedom since people saw it in the news and were under the impression that the book was already available (it’s currently ranked #7 on Amazon’s bestseller list). There were also rumors that the publisher would push up the release date, but, for now, it looks like they are sticking with August 31st.

If you are curious about Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, here is the publisher’s summary:

Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.

But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons

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