Heralds proclaim from rooftops far and wide that with his latest, Jonathan Franzen has secured his place in the pantheon of Great American Writers. Not that I’ve actually read Freedom–yet. But it looks good and the reviews gush milk and honey, with the exception of one acerbic paragraph in Kirkus Reviews ending: “If ‘freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ (as Kris Kristofferson wrote), this book uses too many words to convey too much of nothing”. Can you trust a reviewer who quotes Kris Kristofferson? Did someone accidentally route a title marked “literary fiction” to the “genre fiction” department? Whether mostly hype or part hype part good reading, or good, occasionally annoyingly literary reading liberally adulterated with hype, I’m sold. I can’t even remember why I used to find Franzen a little annoying other than his habit of proclaiming that his next book will be the real-deal Great American Novel. The issue of Time bearing Franzen’s visage on its cover contains an informative article touching on his relationship with the late, great David Foster Wallace, and his birdwatching habit (Speaking of which, Franzen’s recent article in The New Yorker on the widespread illegal hunting of songbirds in the Mediterranean is a really excellent piece of journalism. If you’d like to read the Mercantile’s online edition of the New Yorker, the password and login are the collector’s complete email address. This sucker’s even garnering praise from “across the pond”. And of course it wouldn’t be a Franzen book release extravaganza without controversy, now would it?