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The Corrections: A Novel Hardcover – September 15, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux; 1st edition (September 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374129983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374129989
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,288 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jonathan Franzen's exhilarating novel The Corrections tells a spellbinding story with sexy comic brio, and evokes a quirky family akin to Anne Tyler's, only bitter. Franzen's great at describing Christmas homecomings gone awry, cruise-ship follies, self-deluded academics, breast-obsessed screenwriters, stodgy old farts and edgy Tribeca bohemians equally at sea in their lives, and the mad, bad, dangerous worlds of the Internet boom and the fissioning post-Soviet East.

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

From Publishers Weekly

If some authors are masters of suspense, others postmodern verbal acrobats, and still others complex-character pointillists, few excel in all three arenas. In his long-awaited third novel, Franzen does. Unlike his previous works, The 27th City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992), which tackled St. Louis and Boston, respectively, this one skips from city to city (New York; St. Jude; Philadelphia; Vilnius, Lithuania) as it follows the delamination of the Lambert family Alfred, once a rigid disciplinarian, flounders against Parkinson's-induced dementia; Enid, his loyal and embittered wife, lusts for the perfect Midwestern Christmas; Denise, their daughter, launches the hippest restaurant in Philly; and Gary, their oldest son, grapples with depression, while Chip, his brother, attempts to shore his eroding self-confidence by joining forces with a self-mocking, Eastern-Bloc politician. As in his other novels, Franzen blends these personal dramas with expert technical cartwheels and savage commentary on larger social issues, such as the imbecility of laissez-faire parenting and the farcical nature of U.S.-Third World relations. The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Sept.)Forecast: Franzen has always been a writer's writer and his previous novels have earned critical admiration, but his sales haven't yet reached the level of, say, Don DeLillo at his hottest. Still, if the ancillary rights sales and the buzz at BEA are any indication, The Corrections should be his breakout book. Its varied subject matter will endear it to a genre-crossing section of fans (both David Foster Wallace and Michael Cunningham contributed rave blurbs) and FSG's publicity campaign will guarantee plenty of press. QPB main, BOMC alternate. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Denmark, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain. Nine-city author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


More About the Author

Jonathan Franzen is the author of three novels--The Corrections, The Twenty-Seventh City, and Strong Motion--and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.

Customer Reviews

Jonathan Franzen writes beautiful prose.
Ismail Elshareef
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!"!
John D. Morgan
Because he does little else, I found it hard to care about the book, the characters or the author's point of view.
A. Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

918 of 1,017 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on November 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"The Corrections" has been delivered with a blizzard of media hype than can be off-putting to the very readers the publishers want to reach (people starved for serious, readable, intelligent fiction.) But you really should get ahold of this excellent novel. I devoured it in one night's frenzied reading. Yes indeed, Franzen has taken the somewhat inaccessible avant-garde concerns of writers like Don DeLillo or the David Foster Wallace of "Infinite Jest" and placed them in the context of a mainstream novel about *family* and how it prepares you to function (or not) in the larger world. Franzen manages to create a little universe that mirrors our own crazy world, yet makes the madness more comprehensible. He is devilishly funny, in a laugh-out-loud sort of way, yet his message is ultimately one of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Lamberts, the screwed-up family at the heart of the story, have the feeling of real people you know. That are unique, unforgettable individuals, but you may squirm when the self-destructive ways of Gary, Chip or Denise remind you of the stupid mistakes you have made in your own life. Alfred and Enid, the mom and dad, will make you shake your head; when did Franzen meet *my* parents? The book becomes genuinely suspenseful as Enid struggles to get her wayward children home for "one last Christmas" before Alfred's decline becomes irrevocable. And don't let Franzen's bad-mouthing of Oprah deter you from reading this. Ironically, his comments are just the sort of thing one of the Lambert kids would say in order to sabotage themselves. It just proves Franzen really does know what he's talking about.
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527 of 590 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Caution: This book is filled with vulgar and coarse words. If such offend you, avoid this book.
The Corrections is either a five star, or a one star book for most people. . . depending on your perspective. I graded the book a three, because I had quite a lot of both reactions that I share below. In deciding whether or not you should read this book, ignore the book's award and the book's controversy, but do pay attention to the next two paragraphs.
Here's who will hate it: Anyone who dislikes reading about unending emotional turmoil, depression, dementia, people messing up their lives, ugly family scenes, emotionally cold families, and the views of the well-educated, self-satisfied towards everyone else. Further groups who will be offended will include those who dislike extreme writing styles, slowly developing stories, and a strong sense of irony. Also, anyone from Lithuania or of Lithuanian ancestry will probably feel offended.
Here's who will love it: Anyone who liked John Cheever's Wapshot Chronicle and Wapshot Scandal, but would also like to see more of the interaction among the family members; those who enjoy writing that takes characters to the edge and tests them thoroughly with temptation and challenge in order to let their actions describe their personalities; those who enjoy satirical treatment of foibles of the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boom; and those who would like to read about a family with more problems than their own has. The writing itself will interest people who like to see new forms of narration, and appreciate an ability to switch smoothly between stream of consciousness and straight narration.
If you are in the latter category, read on.
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132 of 149 people found the following review helpful By CAM on January 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a "matoor" woman of 58 raised in the Midwest, a member of the "working poor", and as one-half of a couple who doesn't understand why even though "we are smart, we aren't rich", it was gratifying to learn that at least SOMEONE recognizes we're here.
The myopic Enid and I are sisters. The highly principled, stoic Albert and my husband (albeit, sans illness) are made from the same cloth. We have a "Gary" and a "Denise" and five more independent, self-reliant, contributing members of society who refuse to be "Dollys" in a culture of consensus mentality.
Not EVERYONE has a hunky-dory existence. Some of us intelligent, well-educated people are struggling. Our children are far from perfect and struggling too. But we get up every morning, put one foot in front of the other, do the best we can, and hide our secrets behind forced smiles.
I was awestruck by JF's ability to get inside our minds and speak our thoughts, fears, so well. The dichotomy between the parents and their baby-boomer children, the difference in priorities, each defining "family values" as it suits them from a smorgasbord of choices, no two alike. It's amazing that, in the end, each Lambert does the right thing. They are a family after all.
God bless you, Jonathan Franzen, for writing a novel that needed to be written. Somehow I feel less alone knowing Enid is with me. For the rest of you naysayers, finish the book. Read and savor the first few pages. The writing is smooth as silk...
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful By A. Anderson on March 29, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After all the hype, how could I not read the book? Easily, as it turns out.
Franzen is an extremely observant man. He can capture and dissect people with a perception and thoroughness that any writer could envy. He notices and describes the actions and manipulations of relationships, the effects of needing love and recognition, the sometimes funny but often just unkind interactions between people who do not understand themselves or others. He is dead on particularly, in the clever manipulation of the Yuppie character, Gary, by his wife. He is persuasive in the sexual character of Denise. Chip is the comic character and his scenes veer between merely pathetic and truly funny. The characters are recognizable, and generally carry the burden of their assignments well.
The book is a series of stories of the main characters, each of whom are 'correcting' what came before. They want to correct each other, their parents, their partners, their siblings and themselves. Each of them seems to think that if they change a behavior, the outward appearance of their lives, they will be successful is becoming the person they want to be. Or more accurately, avoid becoming the person they do not want to be. The inward journeys of the characters do not go deep. These are not thoughtful people. There is no moral basis for action, no questioning, no intellectual component to their lives, no weighing of choices, no wrestling with larger themes. Their lives and decisions are nearly always a reaction to something else and Franzen cooly, coldly and unkindly just watches.

The result is like being at a cocktail party,listening to an intelligent, perceptive and well spoken drunk skewer everyone else in the room.
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