(Some of) The best parts of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen:
“Merrie, who was ten years older than Patty and looked every year of it, had formerly been active with the SDS in Madison and was now very active in the craze for Beaujolais nouveau.”
“She was a grave and silent little person with the disconcerting habit of holding your gaze unblinkingly, as if you had nothing in common.”
“… there was something congenitally undefended about Patty’s heart — she never ceased to be shocked by the sister’s lack of sisterliness.”
“The more time she spent with him, the more she was coming to feel that even though she wasn’t nice — or maybe because she wasn’t nice; because she was morbidly competitive and attracted to unhealthy things — she was, in fact, a fairly interesting person. And Walter, by insisting so fervently on her interestingness, was definitely making progress toward making himself interesting to her in turn.”
“‘He wasn’t nice to me,’ she said through tears. ‘And you’re the opposite of that. And I so, so, so need the opposite of that right now. Can you please be nice?’
‘I can be nice,’ he said, stroking her head.”
“…she was fully aware, from second to second to second, that it wasn’t a drug or a dream but just life happening to her, a life with only a present and no past…”
“Walter himself had great compassion for people attempting to be funny, and laughed loudly to reward them for their effort, and yet he instantly knew he wanted to be friends with the tall, unsmiling person.”
“She had all day every day to figure out some decent and satisfying way to live, and yet all she ever seemed to get for all her choices and all her freedom was more miserable.”
“… he loved Patty in some wholly other way, some larger and more abstract but nevertheless essential way that was about a lifetime of responsibility; about being a good person.”
“Taking a cab to the city center, she was pierced unexpectedly by regret for… not walking the streets as an independent adult woman, not cultivating an independent life, not being a sensible and curious tourist instead of a love-chasing madwoman.”
“Walter was frightened by the long-term toxicity they were crating with their fights. he could feel it pooling in ther marriage like the coal-sludge ponds in Appalachian valleys.”
“The pedestrians in every neighborhood all seemed to have taken the same dowdiness pills. As if individual style were a volatile substance that evaporated in the vacuity of D.D.’s sidewalks and infernally wide squares.”
“These were the first seconds in which he’d ever experienced anything like coldness from her; and they were dreadful. What he’d never understood about men in his position, in all the books he’d read and movies he’d seen about them, was clearer to him now: you couldn’t keep expecting wholehearted love without, at some point, requiting it. There was no credit to be earned for simply being good.”
sui generis – unique or particular, constituting a class alone
cicatrix – new tissue that forms over a wound and later contracts into a scar.
uric – of, concerning, or derived from urine
passerine – of, belonging, or pertaining to the order Passeriformes, comprising more than half of all birds and typically having the feet adapted for perching.
necromancy – a method of divination through alleged communication with the dead; black art.
fetor – strong, offensive smell