The winner of THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD, the New York Times No.1 Bestseller and the worldwide literary sensation, The Corrections has established ...Show synopsisThe winner of THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD, the New York Times No.1 Bestseller and the worldwide literary sensation, The Corrections has established itself as a truly great American novel. After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man -- or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal; bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home. Stretching from the Midwest at midcentury to the Wall Street and Eastern Europe of today, The Corrections brings an old-fashioned world of civic virtue and sexual inhibitions into violent collision with the era of home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and globalized greed. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, deeply humane, it announces Jonathan Franzen as one of the most brilliant interpreters of American society and the American soul.Hide synopsis
Corrections (Picador USA) – Trade paperback (2002)
Trade paperback, Picador USA 2002
ISBN: 0312421273 ISBN-13: 9780312421274
A comic, tragic masterpiece of an American family breaking down in an age of easy fixes, Franzen's third novel brings an old-time America into wild collision with the era of home surveillance and New Economy speculation. Winner of the National Book Award.A comic, tragic masterpiece of an American family breaking down in an age of easy fixes, Franzen's third novel brings an old-time America into wild collision with the era of home surveillance and New Economy speculation. Winner of the National Book Award.Hide
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this autho rknows how to write- i look forward to hi new book FREEDOM which obama read on his holiday-families are complex as this book shows- the portrayal of parkinsons in this book is heartwrenchin- i had a spouse with that wretched disease.
i made an effort to sympathize with the Lambert family, but just couldn't do it. alfred was the only one worth any pity on account of his deteriorating health after a life wasted by masochistically denying himself pleasure and enjoyment in anything besides his tinkering in the basement. the rest of the lot were self-absorbed and whiny. my favorite images were chip falling asleep at the dinner table after refusing to eat the putrescent food his vindictive mother had prepared and when alfred fell off of the cruise ship while attempting to peep at an attractive woman on a lower deck (whom he would probably refer to as a 'succubus'). the end of the book had most of the lamberts taking more responsibility for themselves and their contentedness which was the closest thing to a happy-ending these dysfunctional characters could hope for.
In Jonathan Franzen's Corrections, the protagonist is a professor of Textual Artifacts (a send-up of Critical Theory and Cultural Studies). Franzen is almost too clever by half, employing the specialized language of metallurgy, food,railroads, et cetera et cetera et cetera, but not always to apparent purpose. It's also part academic novel updated to a contemporary setting, and sex farce (the obligatory teacher-student affair), but it could be that Franzen is the best of the postmodern novelists who share a kinship with filmmakers such as Alexander Payne, who chart similar satirical territory, often quite funny but verging on The Suburban Grotesque. In retrospect, the Oprah flap--Franzen refused an appearance--seems ridiculous, because Franzen's novel isn't a masterpiece of high modernism at all, but a funny, accessible, playful, even touching Midwestern familial farce in the age of global capitalism (the characters are beset by impersonal market forces). The father's dementia, the mother's class avidity, the children's messed-up lives are all hilariously rendered. But at over 600 pages, the novel is overlong; some of Franzen's inventions such as a talking piece of excrement are merely silly. In addition, for a novel of such epic length, it focuses on an awfully narrow band of class; the mother Enid's envy of the upper class doesn't quite qualify as class warfare. In short, the novel is a snapshot of a certain class at a certain moment--the 1990s in Middle America--but it fails to plumb character in any real depth; perhaps Franzen implies that in our postmodern age character itself is flattened by consumer culture, academic theory, political correctness, market forces, pop artifacts and so on. There is terrific comedy in The Corrections; the question is whether or not such comedy has much of a literary shelf-life.
My review that follows is based on my first attempt at reading this. About three years later on my way to spend a week with my family I picked it up and tried it again. It's actually a very good yet challenging novel but you have to be in the right frame of mind when you read it. Reading this during my family visit was very appropriate. My original review is below:
I'm not sure why there was so much hype over this novel. I bought it based on the rave reviews I kept hearing, yet a third of the way through I still couldn't understand what all the fuss is about. I don't profess to being an incredibly intellectual person but I do love to read challenging, thought provoking and just simply entertaining novels. This novel was none of the above. I'm hard pressed to believe that Oprah considered featuring this in her book club. Perhaps she liked the cover art, the only intriguing and interesting thing about this book.
In all fairness, I didn't finish reading the novel. Actually, I COULDN'T finish reading the novel. It was an ordeal, a chore. I felt myself getting depressed over the thought of having to trudge through 500+ pages just to get to the last paragraph. The problem with Franzen's writing is he makes you jump through flaming circus hoop after flaming circus hoop before rewarding you with the point he's trying to get across. His writing is dry, every other word is enormous, difficult and academic (no doubt to show off his impressive vocabulary) and he makes many references to people, places and things that leave the average reader clueless. This novel comes off as a bit pretentious, self indulgent (like the screenplay the Chip character was trying to write) and highly alienating to the average reader.
Enid and Alfred were the only two interesting characters. The other characters were dull, annoying and just plain uninteresting. I found myself not caring what happened to any of them. I didn't even want to know what happened to them. I was surprised with myself when I put the book down and said "Enough is enough!" I usually finish every book I start but I wasted too much of my personal time on this book, not to mention my hard earned cash as well. "The Corrections " is intended solely for the literati elite.
If this is the future of the great American novel, then give me Jackie Collins anyday!
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