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The Corrections: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 2002
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From The New Yorker
A sprawling novel about the diaspora of the modern American family: Enid and Alfred have carved their lives out of the suburban Midwest bedrock—hard work, shrimp cocktail, and silent sex—but their children live in New York and Philadelphia, eat wild Norwegian salmon, experiment with bisexuality, and study Foucault. Franzen gives us a tragicomic portrait of a flawed nation with the equally flawed notion of perfectibility at its heart.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
“You will laugh, wince, groan, weep, leave the table and maybe the country, promise never to go home again, and be reminded of why you read serious fiction in the first place.” ―The New York Review of Books
“Marvelous . . . Everything we want in a novel--except, when it's rocking along, for it never to be over.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Jonathan Franzen has built a powerful novel out of the swarming consciousness of a marriage, a family, a whole culture--our culture.” ―Don DeLillo
“Looms as a model for what ambitious storytelling can still say about modern life . . . Franzen swings for the fences and clears them with yards to spare.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“The novel we've been waiting for...a stunning anatomy of family dysfunction...a contemporary novel that will endure.” ―Esquire
“In its complexity, its scrutinizing and utterly unsentimental humanity, and its grasp of the subtle relationships between domestic drama and global events....It is a major accomplishment.” ―Michael Cunningham
“Frighteningly, luminously authentic.” ―The Boston Globe
“A genuine masterpiece . . . This novel is a wisecracking, eloquent, heartbreaking beauty.” ―Elle
“The brightest, boldest, and most ambitious novel I've read in many years.” ―Pat Conroy
“Brilliant . . . Almost unbearably lifelike.” ―The New York Observer
“Funny and deeply sad, large-hearted and merciless, The Corrections is a testament to the range and depth of pleasures great fiction affords.” ―David Foster Wallace
“This is a spellbinding novel . . . that is both funny and piercing.” ―People
Top customer reviews
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The Corrections tells the story of a broken family set up in sections from each of the family members perspectives. Through each of the sibling's chapters, you get a sense of how their parents raised them and how that affected them differently. They all have grown up as deeply flawed individuals struggling to find their place, but all of them have qualities we can support and root for.
Franzen speaks with brutal honesty that can often be heartbreaking and devastating. For the literary quality alone, you should read this book, but if that's not enough, do it to explore a character study that will move you.
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.
It ends up that I liked it. Though it's not a "feel good" book, it is a book about real people. One doesn't really fall in love with any one character. They are all flawed and have made some very bad decisions. Yet, if you look around, that's true of just about everyone you meet...including yourself.
It is hard work to get through the book because of all the issues involved---and it is almost 600 pages long. However, like Kavalier and Clay, it is so well-written that one doesn't mind. If you know anyone suffering from Parkinson's Disease you will be amazed and saddened at how well Franzen writes what it feels like to watch yourself deteriorate. He also does a great job in relaying how those closest to you are affected.
Like them or not, I didn't think the characters were all that impossible to believe. In my view, Franzen takes each of their situations and makes them so that you can actually see how they would get themselves in the situations they did. Even if you wouldn't get yourself into some of these jams, you can see how someone else could. It's not all that farfetched.
I thought the ending was superbly written. There are no heroes in this book, just regular people dealing with their problems as best they know how to.
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed reading it, however some passages seem too long sometimes