So the President grabs Franzen's novel, Freedom, for his vacation. No big thing on one hand, but on the other it shows that the President is a bird of a different color. He grabs a piece of literature, a trend setter for his generation and not some tired biography or Lincolns papers or something, well, Presidential. He grabbed current literature...fiction no less. And not lightweight fiction.
In the age of the Internet a President snagging a defining piece of literature is a good thing. For everybody. Franzen while more decipherable as Joyce or David Foster Wallace is not light reading. Contemporary novels try and sort out the American experience and it is very cool that our President looks to writers of fiction to entertain himself if not inform.
It may be no big deal on one hand. Clinton was a voracious reader and you could see him grabbing some advance copies, but I don't think so. President Obama is a writer himself and that is his secret. That is probably what trips him up, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "a writer is too many people if he is any good." Certainly this fits our President. So right now he is chilling on the beach reading Freedom, a novel summing up our time, his time. Maybe he is thinking about his next book. That's what writers do when they read somebody who is good.
William Hazelgrove's next novel Rocket Man is due out in September.