In clear, melodic prose, [Freeman] examines one friendship and two very different lives ... Freeman delves here into the complexities of friendship: the powerful charm of the reckless ally; the way two people can be pulled toward each other yet struggle to interact; the tie that remains even after a friend moves away ... Freeman asks us to consider the value of a quiet life, the beatitudes of deep connection, but also the pitfalls of putting others first. Can satisfaction be found in the quiet stillness? Is an artist’s life more fulfilling? Freeman resists the idea of either stereotype being true ... What Freeman does throughout MacArthur Park: drill into the core of a hard, long-standing friendship. It’s the kind of match you know isn’t perfect, but you crave it anyway, if only as a living form of nostalgia. Why do we remain connected to friends who hurt us or misunderstand us? Freeman’s been there also, and she writes beautifully from that uneasy space.
This is an erudite, meandering novel, with many detours off the plot path. Part of Verna’s growth in L.A. includes her blossoming into an intellectual, so there are plenty of references to great works of literature. Recommended for libraries in literary-minded communities.
Developments background Freeman’s extended explorations into the complexities of marriage, friendship, and art ... [A] long drive to Utah...showcases Freeman’s bravura descriptions of diverse American landscapes ... Readers may find it frustrating that warm, perceptive Verna has spent so much of her life adapting to the demands of two self-absorbed people, but Freeman asks us to understand that committed relationships necessarily involve conflict and compromise ... Intelligent, challenging fiction.