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The Corrections Paperback – Large Print, July, 2003
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An emphatic depiction of dementia in the older degenerating mind and its associated pain is presented and well done. The intertwining of drugs and modern family interactions is included here and although nothing new, the fallacy of their effectiveness with personal problems cannot be hammered home enough.
Although the modernist style prevails, I could not help noticing Proust-like meticulous detail at times, almost as though Proust was trying to break free of Pynchon and his likes. I imagine some sort of intertextual conversations may be taking place here but that is beyond me. Pertaining to the detailed descriptions, those obtained from research lacks the crispness of that achieved from direct observation, a hallmark of Proust. There is no way around this.
Although some of the younger generation eventually fair better as the story progresses, unless I missed it, not one of the characters becomes conscious of the origins of their behavior, the first step needed to break free of the old patterns. I found this somewhat disappointing.
Each of the little novellas contained within the book are engaging and written with unbelievable detail. Franzen has quite a knack for inserting obscure minutiae into his prose and weaving it seamlessly into the descriptions of Enid, Alfred, Chip, Gary, and Denise. I was impressed with the tension created in the subplot of Chip's business dealings in Eastern Europe, as well as the comedic timing inherent in the cruise ship section of the book. The latter section was probably my favorite part of the whole book. Alfred's hallucinations were both terrifying and hysterical. I also loved the bickering dialogue between the Roths and the Nygrens on the Gunnar Myrdal. The back-and-forth love affairs of Denise were outrageously engaging and made for compelling reading.
All in all, I thought this was an excellent book, and I'm compelled to find more material like it. I know that Franzen's writing will leave an impression on me for a long time. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for engrossing character development as well as a unique story.
Reviews are mixed. To each his own. For me this was the real deal. Characters full of flesh. Human interactions that couldn't have been clearer on HD TV. Yes I probably would have preferred less sex, less descriptions of fluids, bowels and such but in return I would not have traded knowing less about each person in the book. You could hand this to someone in a hundred years and say this is a slice of America 2000. It's not pretty and it's not everyone's experience but it is a big, harsh-light, unredacted snapshot of a time and place in recent USA.
This is the best modern novel I've read in many years.