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Obama's one-word review of "Freedom"

time mag.jpgWhile vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard in August the president was given an advanced copy of Jonathan Franzen’s much-talked-about new novel. Nearly two months later the review from the White House has come in.

When the BBC’s Mark Coles asked Franzen if the president had read “Freedom,” the author replied, “I heard second-hand that he had and he had described it as ‘terrific.’”

“That’s a comment to put on the jacket,” Coles replied.

“Well, yes and no,” Franzen said. “‘Terrific’ is what you say when you have nothing to say, and that’s exactly the way I’d want it. I would hate to think he was actually forgetting about important matters of state to get lost in a novel. That’s not what I want my president doing.”

But Franzen isn’t ungrateful for the commander-in-chief’s attention.

“Hearing that the president had the book was genuinely exciting. That kind of derailed a whole afternoon for me,” he said.

The comments were made on the BBC World Service’s program The Strand. You can listen to the full interview here, with the remarks about the president about 20 minutes in.

By Stephen Lowman  | October 11, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
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