Franzen has turned his considerable novelistic talents to a kind of inquisitorial examination of the American ideal of freedom. He shows how freedom is negatively construed—focused on what we are free from and not on what freedom might be for, what worthy ends it might be used to pursue.
Based on the award-winning 2005 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, who also penned The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go is that rare story that doesn't rely on a revelatory plot twist to make its thematic point and drive the message home.
The year is 2071 when the narrator of this novel, who calls himself Ray Bradbury to conceal his identity, begins his report. The report details the year he spent living with his own clone in various apartments in Canada, hiding from the U.S. government and supported by an anticloning group.
When comedian Stephen Colbert brought his act to Capitol Hill in
September and stole the spotlight with his satirical shtick, no one was
more surprised than lawmakers. "You run your show," scolded House
Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, "we run the committee."
There was a shallow moss gray basin set with bunches of grapes. The grapes were chiseled green with the ripeness of their September harvest. There was a pert glazed pitcher, black as obsidian, filled with cold water. There were six linen napkins with red diagonal strips laxly laid by earthenware plates.
But no one sat at the low walnut table. There was no shepherd or mastiff nearby. No, Old Pritchard’s family—bless them!— was casting about somewhere below for his lean body, his cracked bones.
Print books remain significantly more popular than digital books, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. The bad news is that the number of people who reported reading a book in any format last year was 73 percent, down from 79 percent in 2011 when Pew first started gathering data on the reading habits of America (Publishers Weekly, September 16).