- Series: Recent Picador Highlights
- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (September 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780312421274
- ISBN-13: 978-0312421274
- ASIN: 0312421273
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,274 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 central premise of the novel – a dysfunctional family of five trying to gather together for one last Christmas – serves as a kind of frame story, with every individual chapter delving into the backstory of a main character. Individual stories are not as cleanly separated as in Decameron or Canterbury Tales, though; author often switches to a different POV to show us same situation from different angles, and the narrative often shifts between past and present, showing us how this or that character's formative years made them what they are today. That Corrections is so character-focused can prove a big problem for some people, because all major and most of minor characters are extremely unlikable. They are paranoid, delusional, self-centered, unfaithful, manipulative, domineering (the list could go on forever, really), and their redeeming qualities are few. Nevertheless, none of them are bland or uninteresting, and you will quickly discover that although all of important characters are A-holes, there are actually many different degrees of A-hollery; who knows, maybe you'll even end up rooting for some of characters (or at least hate them less than others). The author even plays a little bait-and-switch where a seemingly most well-rounded and nice member of the family later turns out to be one of the worst human beings in the book.
A lot of people here and elsewhere complained that the absence of sympathetic characters made the book unreadable for them. I beg to differ. Franzen's characters are unlikable, but they are hardly unsympathetic. Numerous flashbacks help us understand that they are hardly to blame for most of their shortcomings; in most cases no one is really to blame. Also, they are not quite unrealistic, and while Franzen is often extremely satirical in their depictions (for example, one of the family members thinks "At least I didn't become a religious fundamentalist like my father"; his sons are named Caleb, Jonah, and Aaron), they still don't devolve into outright caricatures. Speaking of caricatures, Franzen dishes out a lot of criticism aimed both left and right: academic feminists and racist bigots, Midwestern traditionalists and coastal elites, capitalists and socialists all get their due portion of witty barbs. On the other hand, while Franzen steps on a lot of toes, he is unlikely to continue stomping on any particular foot; his criticism is aimed at society in general, and the way it twists and corrupts individuals.
Last, but not least, I've found Franzen's writing style to be pleasantly witty and well-flowing. I've had to re-read a couple of complex passages to actually get them, but the writing in general is not ponderous or self-indulging at all. I'd recommend Corrections to anyone interested in fiction with realistic and complex characters.
Also, reviews informed me that "The Corrections’" plot concerns a middle-class family of five in the late-twentieth-century Midwest, with Depression-era parents and grown kids who flew the coop. I happen to hail from a middle-class family of five in the late-twentieth-century Midwest, with Depression-era parents and grown kids who flew the coop. I thought the book might hit a little too close to home, and so I took a pass.
Franzen is a spectacularly gifted writer. His insights and prose are endlessly inventive. He deftly mixes elements of Shakespearean tragedy with humor straight out of Kurt Vonnegut. He chooses the perfect word, the perfect phrase to illustrate his scenes. The major theme, in which members of The Greatest Generation and The Me Generation collide with societal change and with each other, is important to many Americans. National Book Award voters honored "The Corrections" in 2001, and justifiably so.
However … this was a novel that I admired more than I enjoyed. The characters, although fully realized and recognizable, are not what I’d call endearing, and the reader is asked to spend 566 pages with them. Unless you grew up in a family much like the Lamberts – (ahem) – "The Corrections" might engage your mind but not so much your soul. -- grouchyeditor.com