Bear in mind: Franzen will tell me that because I'm not American I don't get it. Both those things are absolutely fine with me.
Just... needlessly complex, overly wordy, and how to explain...
For example, I read something about the pharmaceutical industry etc, so I assume Franzen is making a statement about the evils of such companies in America, but that's not really the message I take directly from his writing, rather my assumption of what it is about, cause I find it all a bit flat and aimless. There's an old man with Parkinson's, so I assume it is in part about the bittersweetness of a family banding together to care for a loved one, but again... that's a theme I apply to his writing based on the situations and characters in the book, but what message came through his words about that topic? And may I ask, what does he know about caring for someone with Parkinson's? Did he just imagine a man with Parkinson's and what it might be like? I did a bit of reading and it's to do with his dad's struggle with Alzheimer's I guess... Well, I can understand that, then. But not enjoy it.
What can I say? I thought the metaphorical talking turd was the most fitting thing in there hahaha!
Franzen admits to being a bit shameless when he takes ideas from the experimental writers, [a: Gaddis|15991|William Gaddis|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1339553943p2/15991.jpg], [a:Pynchon|235|Thomas Pynchon|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1344580482p2/235.jpg] and the like... Dude, you're not shameless enough! I would totally read the next Franzen novel if it was called [a:Jonathan Franzen|2578|Jonathan Franzen|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1357663607p2/2578.jpg]'s "[b:Gravity's Rainbow|415|Gravity's Rainbow|Thomas Pynchon|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327868134s/415.jpg|866393]" by [a:Thomas Pynchon|235|Thomas Pynchon|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1344580482p2/235.jpg] :-)
If you would like something about Americans that is entertaining, please listen to David Bowie's "Young Americans" continuously for the length of time it would take you to read a Franzen novel. I think you will find it a richer experience.Take it away, David!
(I don't know if the song is actually about Americans.)