cover of "Freedom"Dearest readers,

Welcome to our conversation about Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom. How are you feeling after page 562? I felt like rereading it as soon as I got to the end. I love that it’s bringing the themes of overpopulation, biodiversity, consumerism, and mountaintop-removal mining to a mass audience.

Speaking of a mass audience, Franzen made a much-anticipated appearance on Oprah’s show on Monday. (You can watch an after-the-show audience Q&A.) Unfortunately, Oprah didn’t talk about any of the book’s green themes.

But Grist’s Amanda Little did! Franzen gave her an exclusive interview about the environmental aspects of his book — check it out. And watch this video clip from their conversation:

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Backstory for those of you who haven’t finished the book yet: One of the main characters, Walter Berglund, is an avid environmentalist who pours himself into campaigns to save a rare bird, the cerulean warbler, and raise awareness about overpopulation. His efforts climax with a YouTube-worthy public rant in which he yells, “We are a cancer on the planet!” All the while, his life and marriage are falling apart.

In your experience, does caring about a big, overwhelming set of problems like those facing the environment lead to occasional emotional dysfunction? Have you ever had a case of “radical misanthropy” like Franzen? If so, what have you done to cure it?

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Share your thoughts in the comments below. Feel free to join in even if you haven’t read the book yet.

And stay tuned: We’ll be rolling out more Book Club posts with video clips from our interview with Franzen. (Don’t forget to read the full interview.) Come back tomorrow for more conversation!