I don't usually read contemporary fiction unless a book has been recommended, suggested, assigned, book-club'd, given to me, pushed on me by relentless friends, etc. because contemporary fiction is depressing. The point of this it is to bring up real life issues that people face every single day. The writing often hits too close to home, and I just don't find that kind of fiction suitable for when I'm trying to read for fun.Franzen is different though, or so I hear. He tends to make suffering more palatable, so there's humor in his tragedies and irony in his pain. This book is set in the Twin Cities--well, St. Paul if you really want to make the distinction, which people from both sides of the river do--and I always make room in my reading list for books about my hometown(s). Hopefully, Franzen, not being a local, will get the atmosphere and locations right. It would be very disappointing if all he does is list local attractions and drop names, as non-local writers tend to do.