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915 of 1,014 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read It; Don't Be Put Off By The Hype
"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...
Published on November 2, 2001 by R. W. Rasband

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525 of 587 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You Will Love This Book . . . Or Hate It!
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...
Published on November 29, 2001 by Donald Mitchell


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915 of 1,014 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read It; Don't Be Put Off By The Hype, November 2, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Corrections (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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525 of 587 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You Will Love This Book . . . Or Hate It!, November 29, 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Corrections (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.
I found the book noteworthy for capturing the politics and manipulation within families in an extremely convincing and revealing way. This subject is normally a taboo in our society.
The theme of corrections (whether in financial markets, in dealing with misbehavior, adjusting to new circumstances, or choosing the right path) is a good one for a novel about families, and I thought the theme was most imaginative and extremely well developed. If you are like me, be aware that the theme's full relevance will not start to hit you until the last 100 pages or so.
The book's focus, to me, was on the limits of our self-perceptions. We have a self-image and a way of internalizing the world. Often, the self-image and way of internalizing the world poorly capture what is really going on. As a result, we can misunderstand our circumstances, what others think of us, what is being communicated to us, and even ourselves. Getting past any self-delusion is important to freely finding and taking the right choices for ourselves. As you laugh while you read this book, I suggest that you laugh a little at yourself . . . and learn in the process.
The book's two best scenes are when Alfred comes home from an 11 hour day and runs into a little turbulence over dinner, and the scene in the ship's cabin when Alfred cannot wake Enid up. I wished that more of the writing had been this good. I look forward to reading more novels by Mr. Franzen in the future.
Where should you be more open to alternatives? What are others trying to tell you?
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131 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard core reality, brilliantly written., January 8, 2002
By 
CAM (Denver burb) - See all my reviews
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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85 of 97 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully observed and very shallow, March 29, 2003
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This review is from: The Corrections: A Novel (Paperback)
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. It's entertaining, but after a while, you begin to hope he will either reach a conclusion or just go home.
Franzen see everything, and understands a good deal less. Or he is cleverly telling us that modern society understands nothing--which he could have done a good deal more briefly. For me, the book becomes distasteful in its lack of sympathy for the characters who are largely all flaws. Perhaps the requirement of contemporary writing is terminal cynicism. Perhaps the author thinks there is little redeeming about any person. Perhaps it is a clarion call to deepen the public psychological discussions of ourselves. If so, the snide, scarcastic and superior tone and lack of empathy ovewhelmed a larger message.
There is no doubt he writes well, can sustain a narrative or, rather, a series of narratives barely tied together by a single Christmas. The day finally arrives, and for no reason, Chip's behavior changes, Enid is reconciled to her martyrdom, Gary fades away entirely, and Denise continues on. The father's physical and mental unravelling is detailed but unresolved. The day carries very little weight, no heavy lifting.
I ended up saying to myself, "Yeah? SO...? And...?" Is it the writer's obligation to tie up, find conclusions, illustrate important things, simulate thoughts of what might have been, or what really was, or anything beyond the surface of the story? Perhaps not. Corrections has been hailed as a masterpiece. It is a very good act of observation. Because he does little else, I found it hard to care about the book, the characters or the author's point of view.
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130 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Tragedy Rewritten as a Farce", February 15, 2004
This review is from: The Corrections: A Novel (Paperback)
Jonathan Franzen has written an ambitious, hugely human novel about a middle class family suffering from too many expectations. In chapters that are closer to novellas in length, THE CORRECTIONS manages to evoke the deeply seated emotions of its characters without taking itself too seriously. Alfred suffers from Parkinson's disease and possibly Alzheimer's, while his wife Enid believes that his failing is not what he has, but who he is. Oldest son Gary is a control freak who is losing control of his marriage, while middle child Chip is an unemployed Ph.D. whose hopes hinge on selling a hopelessly bad script. The youngest, Denise, is the hard-working chef of an acclaimed Philadelphia restaurant whose choices in love are almost always disastrous. While their problems weigh each down, the details of their lives are often wryly humorous. That Chip really believes a screenplay that begins with a six page lecture on sexual imagery in Tudor drama can be a blockbuster, and that Enid falls in love with the lion-y (and illegal) yellow capsules of a mood enhancer called Aslan despite her rigid ethics, balance the downward spiral of their lives. As a former Lithuanian U.N. ambassador says as he and Chip are chased through a country in political crisis, "[. . . ] it's mostly posturing. A tragedy rewritten as a farce." No other sentence more aptly describes this novel's distinctive flair.
Franzen's writing can be pretentious and off-putting at times, with obscure words mixed liberally with vulgarities. Occasionally, a dialogue passage goes on for too long, or a descriptive paragraph fails. However, these lapses are rare. On the whole, this novel is tightly written with a keen eye to the larger significance of petty moments. With THE CORRECTIONS, Franzen has proven himself an astute and witty observer of human nature.
Readers who prefer commercial novels may find the novel's multiple plots too slow-moving. Its strength definitely lies in its characterization and social observations, not in its story. Readers of literary fiction should find it immensely satisfying. Highly recommended.
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166 of 197 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excruciatingly annoying and very, very boring, March 11, 2002
By 
MartinP "MartinP" (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
So this book is supposed to be on a par with Mann's 'Buddenbrooks' (well, it is according to Michael Cunningham on the cover of my paperback copy). Forget it (and please don't insult one of the greatest writers who ever lived). I had no trouble at all finishing the over 700 pages that 'Buddenbrooks' covers. But the only way to finish 'The Corrections' was quitting it, a decision I only postponed because on principle I never quit a book. So I struggled through 320 pages blindly ignoring the obvious fact that it wasn't going anywhere. Well, it wasn't. 'The Corrections' seems to be just the next book by a novelist who took a course in contemperary writing. All basic rules taught in such a course can be seen to full effect in this novel (or whatever you should call it). They run something like this, I imagine:
1. Avoid clear story lines at all times, but instead apply a garble of as many flashbacks and flash forwards as you can possibly fit in.
2. Annoy your reader with constant slow-motion, focussing on details of details, or on reflections on musings on thoughts of characters. Hallucinations are also great! The content or relevance of these are not an issue; the more trivial they seem the more suggestive of hidden depths they will be (and your reader, who is far less clever than you are, will never find out that there are no such hidden depths). Don't forget: banality is the hallmark of a contemporary novel!
3. Be very, very clever. Insert as many citable oneliners as you can. Don't worry if they are totally gratuitous ("Dry land lacked this z-axis"). Also, it is good to add many difficult words, a few in foreign languages, preferably. Don't ever say that 'things are quiet because father has taken to sleeping a lot'; better say that 'a Pax Somnis is descended on the household'. Doesn't that sound literary! And of course show off everything you (or your encyclopaedia) know: add little asides on say, Scandinavian history, Baltic politics, Dutch waterworks, psychofarmaceutical treatment or organ registration.
4. Don't bother with chapters or even paragraphs - just ramble on at will! Please wallow in the conviction that your novel is so engrossing the reader will never want to put it down, so no breaks are needed. Which, by the way, saves you the trouble of structuring your plot. Or better still, you don't even need one!
5. Use lots of similes. Far-fetched is always OK. Or you can be just plain ridiculous and, say, liken the act of intercourse to a model railroad engine tunneling up `warm and gently corrugated recesses'.
6. Avoid any trace of normality in your characters. A story becomes so much more interesting if people are paranoid, selfish, destructive, stark raving mad, abusive, addicted to drugs and porn, incontinent and generally dysfunctional! No character, not even a secondary one, should be without its great, dark tragedy.
7. Add gimmicks: a little picture of a logo here, a little diagram there, marked 'figure 1' - very sophisticated!
8. Of course sex should always be the clue to everything, which also gives you great opportunities to write very modern things with lots of four-letter words! You may even occasionally want to print these in capital letters.
9. Other, preferably revolting details involving bodily fluids or excrement are also very contemporary: use them!
Well, you get the picture, and it isn't pretty. What Franzen tries to do has been done already, and so much better, by for instance Jay McInerney or Douglas Coupland. They prove that it is actually possible to write gripping novels about ordinary people, and that you can expose some of the tragedies of living a modern, urban life without reverting to self-conscious intellectualism, pedantry and forced 'literariness'; that you can even do so without boring your reader into a stupor. So please, don't waste your money on this book, as I unfortunately did!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Tragedy to Farce, March 3, 2008
By 
This review is from: The Corrections (Hardcover)
In Jonathan Franzen's much-discussed novel, "The Corrections" (2001), one of the main characters, a failed academic named Chip Lambert, hopes to restore his fortunes by a screenplay he has written on the Tudors which opens with a long, unperformable section on the sexual foibles of that age. Near the end of this long novel, Chip decides to recast his unpromising script as a farce rather than as a "serious" -- work. Thus, the play-in-progress moves "from tragedy to farce" which might be taken as the theme of Franzen's own book.

The novel tells the story of a disfunctional family, the Lamberts, mirrored in a disfunctional society. The two major protagonists, Alfred and Enid Lambert have been married nearly 50 years and have spent their lives in a town called St Jude, Iowa. Albert is a retired railroad engineer who, since his retirement, has spent his life in a recliner and who has recently developed Parkinson's disease and probably dementia. In his younger days, Albert spent much of his time in his basement in a metallurgical lab, where he secured two patents for his amateur studies. Enid, his wife, has the burden of taking care of Albert. She wants to have a lively life in retirement,to go on cruises and have fun. She craves the company of her family, the couple's three children. In particular, she wants her children and three granchildren home for one last family Christmas in St Jude. Enid has been frustrated, emotionally and sexually, by Albert's aloofness, silences, and frequent business absences during their marriage.

The couple has three children, Gary, the above-mentioned Chip, and Denise, each of whom have severe problems in their lives. Gary is financially successful with three children but his marriage is in difficulty and he, as did Albert, suffers from a depression that he won't acknowledge to himself. Chip, the failed academic, lost his teaching job due to an affair with a student. He borrows large sums from his sister, Denise, and finds himself in Lithuania in a con-scheme with a former Lithuanian diplomat with whose estranged wife Chip has had an affair. Denise is a successful restauranteur, who had her first sexual experience as an adolescent with an older married man when working as an intern on her father's railroad. She later marries and divorces a restauranteur substantially older than herself, and then finds herself involved with a married man as well as with his wife in a lesbian relationship. The stories of Albert, Enid, and the three children are all told at great length with many flashbacks, culminating in the final section -- the long-awaited and predictably disatrous Christmas dinner in St. Jude.

The book has aptly been described as combining elements of Thomas Mann's early masterpiece, "Buddenbrooks" and the contemporary American writer Dom DeLillo's "White Noise." As does "Buddenbrooks", the work involves the decline of a family and a culture. Importantly, both books emphasize the works of the German idealist and pessimistic philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. (Albert in the book, somewhat too obviously is an inveterate reader of Schopenhauer.) The book gets its brash, overwritten, irreverent and highly critical tone from DeLillo, a writer I have never been able to enjoy.

Franzen's book has good moments and moments I thought were dreadful, but ultimately it for the most part worked for me. His characters, both the members of the Lambert family and the many secondary characters, are brought to life in all their troubles. The social criticism -- the discussion of the claimed materialism, selfishness, lack of values, technological obsessions, lack of sexuality and intimacy of the current United States, is unmercifully pounded home again and again. There is a tone of alienation, superiority, shrillness and judgment in this book which I found off-putting. One looks for both compassion and understanding. There is little of this until, perhaps, the end of the tale. The book is far too long for what it says and in many places overwritten.

In spite of these distinct shortcomings, the book moves along and pivots convincingly from "tragedy to farce" as it least some of the characters achieve an insight into themselves and to the dissatisfactions in their lives. For all the modernist trappings, the book has a relatively traditional message -- in its emphasis on trying to enjoy life in the everyday, to take the moments of love and sexual intimacy that come one's way, to not shut oneself off from others, and to avoid negativism -- of the sort otherwise on too much display throughout the book. There is the hint of a possible redemption from the woes that beset the characters through lightening up a bit and through working towards a happy sexual and loving relationship. The book is probably worth the effort it takes to read -- as these efforts tend to point out that the achievement of the goal the book sets forth is not easy, under the best of circumstances, and requires a degree of reflection and insight to see and realize.

Oprah Winfrey did this book an honor by featuring it on her show.

Robin Friedman
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not your average Buddenbrooks, September 5, 2001
By A Customer
Coming off a publicity campaign laden with words such as "masterpiece" and "genius", as well as a NYTimes Magazine piece that he may one day come to regret for its inadvertently comic self-indulgence, Jonathan Franzen is poised for some kind of greatness, though, having finished The Corrections I'm not exactly what that might be. This is a well-written--at times quite stunningly so--novel that could have used the iron hand of an editor not quite so in love with his author. For anyone accustomed to reading Don DeLillo and William Gaddis and even retro old John Updike, the opening pages seem derivative. Then the reader begins to enjoy the characters, and Franzen's style, still faintly redolent, especially of DeLillo, catches its own kind of fire. In the end, though, The Corrections comes off more as five dense character studies in search of a more well-defined story. This would have made a wonderful novella, especially with its muted and rather reticent ending. It's been compared to Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, but that was a a study not just of a family but of a whole social order in a time of serious change. But Franzen likes the sound of his voice, and there's no doubt many will like it too. I just wish he'd now and then let his characters out of their net of irony and have their say, as well.
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153 of 183 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style A, Content C, September 3, 2001
By 
"beatrice88" (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
I was really looking forward to this book, having read Franzen's earlier manifesto regarding the decline of the American novel and the hilarious segment regarding failed screenwriter Chip in the New Yorker. But now it seems that Franzen's fallen into the same slag pit of postmodern irony that has claimed so many other talented writers of our generation. Franzen's writing style is unsurpassed in style -- witty, poetic, by turns tender and savage, reminiscent of Martin Amis and Dave Eggers. But the artistry of Franzen's writing only underscores the hollowness of the characters, the absurdity of the plot, and the utter lack of theme. Maybe this is all "intentional" (artist-speak for "I couldn't come up with anything else"), but the book is less a novel of scope and ambition than a bulky compendium of bitter wit unredeemed by insight or wisdom. It seems to me a failure of courage to take refuge in satire when Franzen clearly has the talent to write seriously about life. But this could have exposed him to charges of sentimentalism, that foulest of literary weaknesses, and he obviously is wise to that, as everyone seems to be praising this book for the very qualities it lacks.
We already have enough absurdist literature and rancid black comedy whose main function is to showcase the wit of the the author at the expense of his characters (not to mention the reader still foolish enough to be seeking transcendence in American literature.) I finished the book in a mood of grim fascination, but overall I was disappointed and depressed. Like many other "literary" novels -- the very ones Franzen claims to despise -- the characters are glib riffs on contemporary stock characters (lesbian, yuppie, suburban psycho-matriarch) rather than characters that you believe in and might even sympathize with. The one character who comes to life is Chip, Franzen's surrogate, whose embarassing obsessions and pathetic stabs of ambition made me laugh out loud (the salmon-in-pants scene was a brilliant, A+ combo of physical comedy and literary flash -- if only the whole book had kept the promising pace of Chip's saga of urban hipster pathos!) I felt for Chip in a way that I never did for the other characters.
And I was really put off by the unending saga of the father's battle with his failing body. There seems to be a belief among contemporary authors that unflinching, detailed descriptions of humiliating scatological scenes somehow makes a meaningful statement about the human condition. Actually, it comes off as a giant cop-out by someone who didn't dare to challenge the existential cliches of modern fiction. James Joyce countered his bodily obsessions with fierce flights of lyrical imagination that leave the reader drunk with the potential of life and art. Would that Franzen had done the the same.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bringing an unfamiliar style to a familiar topic, December 18, 2002
By 
"mr_fishscales" (Rochester, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Corrections: A Novel (Paperback)
I looked at a few of the (713) reviews of this book and had the feeling that I was looking at a clash of cultures. An Anne Tyler novel, this is not. This is a book about family, which is (I guess) why it caught Oprah's eye. It is a look into the dark heart of family life, but it isn't particularly melodramatic (except for Alfred's Parkinson's disease). Hysterical behavior is described in an hilarious fashion that leavens the sadness, embarrassment and shame that you feel for the character. Or rather, that I felt for the characters.
If you cannot relate to these characters then either you had a nice wholesome family life (lucky you) or you are in complete denial about the dysfunctionality of your family life (which, in my experience, seems more likely). Franzen never really describes what any of the Lamberts look like and yet I found myself creating images of them in my mind based on people I know (or knew). This, I feel sure, is his intention rather than some sort of oversight. Anyone who believes that Jonathan Franzen has no writing style has a pretty limited idea of what "writing style" means. Among those 713 reviews here are readers condemning him for having too much style, not enough and none at all. Hmmm.
I didn't like any of the Lamberts. I felt badly for them and knew that they were not bad people, but they are not the kind of people that I would enjoy hanging around with. If one of your requirements of enjoying a novel is that at least one of the main characters should be likeable, then don't spend $15 on this one. Probably the most sympathetic person in this book might have been Gitanas, the Lithuanian UN ambassador/"crimelord". At one point he jeers Chip because his cigarette burns are self-inflicted, while Gitanas's own were received during secret police inquisitions. Chip and Gitanas are presented as döppelgangers (in the east/west sense that you find in the film The Double Life of Veronique). In the East they get you from the outside and in the West they drive you to do it to yourself. Who are "they"? "They" are bourgeois establishment. In this book "they" are represented by Gary's Old Main Line wife Caroline, the Axon Corporation, the Wrouth brothers and a variety of other characters who make decent people live lives full of shame.
Shame is the overriding theme in this novel. The Lamberts are at heart good people who just want to play by the rules and lead successful lives by doing so. But the world keeps telling them that they are missing out by being such goody-two-shoes. All of the second generation of Lamberts are drawn into lives and acts that are wholesale transgressions of their parents' values. Chip is a post-modern theorist and descends into a living hell when he begins to live out his transgressive ideas. Denise is quite confused about her sexuality. Gary is consumed by WASP-envy and is a complete materialist. Enid lives a life consumed by envy as she grows older surrounded by contemporaries who have not played strictly by the rules and have been rewarded with material wealth. Alfred clings desperately to an antique idea of propriety that is so out of step with the world around him that he is driven deeper and deeper into emotional isolation.
The Corrections referred to in the title are numerous. All of them conspire to reward the moral uprightness that has served as both a beacon and an albatross to the Lamberts. The correction to the financial markets that occurred after the summer of 2000 is the most obvious one and because all the events in the book lead up to it, it has an almost Biblical feeling of being an act of God to reward the righteous.
The temporal structure of this book is also fascinating. The narrative consists of long segments devoted to one member of the Lambert clan. You are allowed into the mind of each of them one at a time. Each segment begins in the past and leads you through that person's life toward an event that you have already seen from another family member's point of view, and then advances the overall narrative another step. In this way you witness meetings between the Lamberts from several points of view and experience those meetings from the perspective of one character at at time. This allows you to understand what a mystery each is to the other. This is a brilliant literary device for showing the reader how much better life would be if family members actually talked to one another, rather than operating on extrapolations from information received from secondary sources and your memory of what motivated that person when you knew them years ago during your shared homelife.
So, readers looking for a heartwarming saga of suffering and redemption are not going to get what they want out of this novel. This is a novel about how things are, not how they ought to be. At the end of this novel everything has not been worked out, but neither is everything in ruins.
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The Corrections: A Novel
The Corrections: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen (Paperback - September 1, 2002)
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