Reader's Exchange

How green was my novel

Those of you waiting for a library copy of Jonathan Franzen's new Freedom should know that I finished and returned it early.  Nice though it would be to attribute this haste to virtue/consideration, credit goes to the author.  As with The Corrections, Franzen's contemporary family epic delivers both astute prose inviting one to linger on the page and a compelling story that spurs the reader forward.  The library purchased multiple copies, so chances are excellent that your turn will happen sooner than anticipated.

Walter Berglund is my favorite character (though not the one I understood best, so what does that say about me?)  He is ultra-dependable, amazingly well read, and--most importantly--ecologically minded.  Whatever else Walter may be doing, his brain continually registers rates of deforestation, overpopulation, and so forth.  Examples from Walter's calculating but green thoughts:

  • Page 545:  "...low-end estimate of songbirds daily murdered by cats in the United States was one million, i.e., 365,000,000 per year." 
  •  Page 313: "in the two and a half weeks since his meeting in Manhattan with Richard, the world population had increased by 7,000,000. "  Green calculator

Walter would approve of the reusable shopping bags I now carry around, but my internal calculator tallies other sorts of things.  Examples from my less green but still life-enriching totals:

  • 0:  Number of months until Genealogy After Hours. It's coming up on October 22.
  • 2:  Number of service desks on second floor.  During most hours the library is open, patrons can get guest passes, library cards, and circulation help at the large counter; reference librarians provide assistance at the new temporary reference desk (which looks exactly like two folding tables).  A real counter is on order.  
  • 22:  Titles available for book clubs in the forthcoming (later this month) Book Club Carryout program.   RRPL cardholders will be able to check out a snazzy Ikea tote bag containing 10 copies of a highly discuss-able title.  Both fiction and nonfiction titles are offered; many are just-released hardcover editions.  Freedom is among them!

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