a cure for ADHD

Just when I thought that I was getting too old and that there were no real page-turners left for me in this world, I find a quite unexpected one, a novel inspired by and half the size of War and Peace. I had started reading Freedom almost a year ago, but the realist gossipy opening seemed like a drag, so I abandoned it. Deciding to give it another try recently, I’ve gotten so engrossed that I devoured it in a couple of days. It really made me forget about emails, facebook and all the time eaters, just like the author intended (he said that in an interview), I barely even turned my laptop on while I was sunk into the story of the Berglunds, a middle class family dealing with the usual personal problems, in the first decade of the 21st century. It shows the cycles of the generation gap, the dynamics of rebellion and conformism and how conformism is also a means of rebellion, it’s also about the mistakes we make, the complications of love and sex, ambition, but also selflessness, about youth and the sad, but sobering revelations of adulthood, but most of all about freedom and its entanglements. Freedom has become a commodity too much taken for granted by the Western world in the 21st century and the entanglements, paradoxes and limits of it become subtly evident in the everyday drama of the characters whose main struggle with themselves is to be “good”, each in their own different understanding of the term. Without being pretentious or too didactic, the novel shows the inescapable contradictions we are facing nowadays as citizens of the so called “civilized” world and how our best intentions are turning against us in the long run, how on a personal level we abuse our freedom and how that same freedom tears us apart draining us of ambition and drive, how the whole globalizing process of “making the world safe for democracy” by spreading the free market, middle class prosperity, liberal ideology is draining the world’s resources at a staggering pace, how we focus on petty struggles for power, while the environment we all depend on is dying out before our blind eyes. The most amazing achievement of the book however is that it manages to weave these huge themes in a very intimate story of love, marriage, friendship, adultery, betrayal and coming of age, very discreetly. While you’re turning pages to see who’s gonna sleep with who and whether some character is gonna kill himself or not, you’re also pondering the future of this planet and the legitimacy of the social order you inhabit to claim supremacy over others. It is a love song for the middle class family that also shows how disfunctional and destructive a model it can be, how we’re all gradually going to hell, but might as well love each other and try our best till that happens. It’s also a laugh out loud funny and heart-breathtakingly sad story, it’s both a dead serious and a deliciously self-indulgent read. I might have to get back to it with a clearer head later, but for the moment I’m still enjoying being under its spell.

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