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The Corrections: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 2002
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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.
This book is what I believe modern American fiction should be. His stories make me feel like I climbed a mountain. There is effort required to enter into relationship with characters who remind us of ourselves, and whom we scorn and judge but ultimately love and accept.
There should be discussion groups everywhere that dissect this book, and I will soon find one.
There three children do their best to escape the stifling atmosphere of of this so-called normal mid-western, middle class life. The oldest, gary, is an alcoholic banker living in Philadelphia and struggling with a depression he refuse to acknowledge. Chip, the middle child, is fired from a professorship at a prestigious eastern college for engaging in an inappropriate sexual relation with a student. After writing a failed screenplay he he ends up doing on-line public relations for a Lithuanian crime lord. The youngest, Denise, is a master chef who, with the help of her boss, creates an extremely high end restaurant in Philadelphia but loses it all when she has affairs with her bosses' wife and then her boss.
All three children wind up back in the midwest with their parents during Christmas and conflicts that have simmered for ye3ars come to a head while the try to deal with Alfred's worsening parkinson's disease and encroaching dementia.
The "corrections" in the title refers to the downturn in the economy after the tech boom of the nineteen nineties.It also refers, more specifically, to the changes the characters make in their lives as they head into the new millennium.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed reading it, however some passages seem too long sometimes