A panoramic vision of America at the beginning of the 21st century, seen through the turbulent lives of the Lambert family. At once a moving family drama and a dissection of American society in an age of greed and globalism, The Corrections emerges as a truly great American novel. The Corrections is a deeply moving family drama that stretches from the Midwest at mid-century to Wall Street and Eastern Europe in the age of greed and globalism. Franzen brings an old-time America of industrialism and civic duty, of Cub Scouts, ...
A panoramic vision of America at the beginning of the 21st century, seen through the turbulent lives of the Lambert family. At once a moving family drama and a dissection of American society in an age of greed and globalism, The Corrections emerges as a truly great American novel. The Corrections is a deeply moving family drama that stretches from the Midwest at mid-century to Wall Street and Eastern Europe in the age of greed and globalism. Franzen brings an old-time America of industrialism and civic duty, of Cub Scouts, Christmas cookies and sexual inhibitions, into brilliant collision with the modern absurdities of brain science, home surveillance, hands-off parenting, and do-it-yourself mental healthcare. Although she would never admit it, Enid's husband, Alfred, is losing his grip on reality. Maybe it's the pills that Alfred takes for his Parkinson's disease, or maybe it's his negative attitude, but he spends his day brooding in the basement. Trouble is also brewing in their children's lives. Gary, a wealthy banker and seemingly happily married, is disaffected and a bit too fond of his drink. Chip, after a disastrous entanglement with a female student, has had to leave his prestigious job as professor at D College, and is penning a screenplay of dubious worth. Denise's life is spiralling out of control as her romantic affairs catastrophically implodes on her career as a well-known chef in Philadelphia. As Alfred's condition worsens, one question obsesses Enid. Will all the family spend Christmas together? The sense of urgency mounts as all the family members are caught up in the maelstrom of their mid-life crises, their love-affairs, their faltering careers. Long-buried secrets are unearthed and memories of the past feed into their ever-shifting relationships. Through this unparalleled description of family life, Franzen opens up a tremendous vista of a brash American society at the beginning of the twenty-first century. From foreign policy and healthcare to gated communities, from restaurant critics to workers on the freight trains, this is a panoramic vision of growing old and being young in America. At once comic, tragic, satirical, lyrical, and full of suspense, The Corrections emerges as a truly great American novel.
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.
Sep 24, 2008
might make you appreciate your own family more....
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.
Oct 2, 2007
The Suburban Grotesque
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.
Jun 19, 2007
Interesting yet challenging read
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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