"On the chance that, regarding Patty’s parents, a note of complaint or even outright blame has crept into these pages, the autobiographer here acknowledges her profound gratitude to Joyce and Ray for at least one thing, namely, their never encouraging her to be Creative in the Arts, the way they did with her sisters. Joyce and Ray’s neglect of Patty, however much it stung when she was younger, seems more and more benign when she considers her sisters, who are now in their early forties and living alone in New York, too eccentric and / or entitled-feeling to sustain a long-term relationship, and still accepting parental subsidies while struggling to achieve an artistic success they were made to believe was their special destiny. It turns out to have been better after all to be considered dumb and dull than brilliant and extraordinary."
With the exception of a short prologue, the majority of the first two hundred pages of Freedom consists of one character’s autobiography, ostensibly written for therapeutic purposes. The phrase “the autobiographer” turns up a lot, as this is meant to be written in the third person by Patty herself. It turns up often enough to read as a tic, but a tic on the part of the author rather than the autobiographer — because the tone, sometimes immediate and cutting, is much more often detached and ironic. Which would be fine, might well read as the voice of the person in question, were it not the same bemused, detached, ironic voice of the prologue, alert to a well-turned bon mot or a telling exchange. And it makes me wonder whether this section was not itself once delivered in a limited omniscient third-person voice, or whether that’s merely the natural tendency to which the writer defaults.