The Corrections

thecorrections2I finally read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. He’s the author who got pissed off at Oprah for picking his book for her book club.

Franzen’s inconceivable reponse to what most authors consider the ultimate success story aside, The Corrections is a fantastic novel (it won the 2001 National Book Award).

Pithy, edgy, and painful, this study of all things wrong with modern Western culture–and the American family specifically–is a total page turner. (Franzen might be offended by this description but the novel is no less “literary” for it.)  

I couldn’t put down The Corrections. The story’s force-field pull is Franzen’s smooth yet surprising prose and the Lambert family. I feel like I know these people: Denise the uber-attractive urban chef who’s coming out of the closet; her brother Chip the relationship addict; their older brother Gary, the deeply depressed and in-deep-denial-about-it stockbroker; and their endearing, maddening parents Alfred and Enid. Alfred is railroad builder and inventor has Parkingson’s disease, Enid a housewife straight out of the 1950’s with a severe case of optimism. Franzen alternates between each character, bringing them together masterfully by the novel’s end. 

I laughed out loud at Chip’s masturbation scene (you have to read it to believe it), teared up when Albert debates putting the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth, cringed when perfectionistic Gary pisses in a beer mug while visiting his parents at Christmas, and tensed up with Denise decides to take care of her ailing parents.   I lived with these people from page one to page 567. Dear Enid gets her wish (sort of)–one last Christmas with the entire family in St. Jude, Il. As for the rest of the Lamberts, you’ll have to read the book.


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