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All five members of the Lambert family get their due, as everybody's lives swirl out of control. Paterfamilias Alfred is slipping into dementia, even as one of his inventions inspires a pharmaceutical giant to revolutionize treatment of his disease. His stubborn wife, Enid, specializes in denial; so do their kids, each in an idiosyncratic way. Their hepcat son, Chip, lost a college sinecure by seducing a student, and his new career as a screenwriter is in peril. Chip's sister, Denise, is a chic chef perpetually in hot water, romantically speaking; banker brother Gary wonders if his stifling marriage is driving him nuts. We inhabit these troubled minds in turn, sinking into sorrow punctuated by laughter, reveling in Franzen's satirical eye:
Gary in recent years had observed, with plate tectonically cumulative anxiety, that population was continuing to flow out of the Midwest and toward the cooler coasts.... Gary wished that all further migration [could] be banned and all Midwesterners encouraged to revert to eating pasty foods and wearing dowdy clothes and playing board games, in order that a strategic national reserve of cluelessness might be maintained, a wilderness of taste which would enable people of privilege, like himself, to feel extremely civilized in perpetuity.Franzen is funny and on the money. This book puts him on the literary map. --Tim Appelo
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Because he does little else, I found it hard to care about the book, the characters or the author's point of view.
Reading this book was like going to see a bad movie, but you can't get up to leave; you just keep telling yourself "It's going to get better!"!
After reading the NY Times Book Review and seeing an interview on television with the author, I couldn't wait to buy this book.
This is a brilliant novel about the end of life of the parents and the intricate details of how this develops and ends around a final Christmas get-together. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Jim Stallings
This book isn't about a contrived fairy tale. It doesn't exhibit the author's dreams, or provide moral coherence to an exaggerated fiction. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Benji
What an incredible and powerful book. Though it dances on thin ice a couple of times, Franzen always manages to win me back. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Lali Kagan
It's a skilled author who can write a book that is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. Meet each wonderful, flawed member of an average yet unforgettable family with deep... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Jane
If I wanted to spend this much time with clueless and emotionally stunted people behaving awfully, I'd hang out in Congress for a few days. Read morePublished 1 month ago by A. Meade
Not terrible, but also not the least bit interesting. Truthfully, I don't remember a thing about it, except for some vague memory about a professor (somebody's brother? Read morePublished 1 month ago by MountainView