By Jonathan Franzen
Franzen captures how trivializing a family battle can be and how it can seem to be a fight for survival when, in fact, you're simply scoring points. Chip represents so much of what I'm familiar with: highly intelligent, educated people who become fractured and cast adrift. You can liberate yourself from the rules, decide you don't want to be on the treadmill, you're not going to be Joe Schmo—but once you've cut loose from all that, you can be quite lost. Franzen shows how often love between these people is impossible—how hard love is, how it isn't cozy—how problems aren't something you can break down by everybody hugging one another and forgiving and making it okay. It just blows up in all their faces.