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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
That said, however, I had three issues with this book: First, enough already. Readers get paragraphs and paragraphs of emotional description. I GOT it, Jonathan, in the first few lines of each paragraph; I didn't need to be beaten with your lovely words and impressive vocabulary. My immediate grasp of the nature of Franzen's characters was helped by the fact that I recognized much of my family in the characters and that underscores the beauty of this piece: the characters are remarkably well-drawn (as if) from real life. I just wanted a little less, an acknowledgment that I'm an intelligent person and I didn't need a brick-bat to the side of the head.
Second, while it was painfully easy to experience the terrors and disappointments and insecurities of the Lambert family, I found no joy in their experiences. Even when Franzen describes the sexual encounters and the career successes of these flawed people, events that should have brought them a measure of fulfillment or happiness, I could not feel their elation. I wanted the balance that is in most lives. I wanted to feel the intensity of the highs in the same way as Franzen was able to make me understand his characters' lows.
Third (and lastly), I was less than enamored with Franzen's techno-babble. The minutiae of drug-testing techniques, convoluted political machinations, and other peripheral background is provided in mind-numbing detail which interrupted the flow of the narrative. The last Franzen book I read ("Freedom") had a far better balance of information as background vs. data that filled pages without enlightening the reader with respect to the story. It reminded me of the painful detail Michener provides in the opening chapters of most of his book about the geological formation of the area -- information that is interesting if one is a student of the subject, but sleep-provoking otherwise (and rarely relevant to the overall narrative). I used to skip the first chapter of every Michener book; unfortunately, Franzen's data-laden descriptions appear mid-chapter.
However, as I said above, Franzen is a remarkable writer and student of human nature. His characters were very real.
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.
The chapters were very long and would skip from person to person without notice. When it got to the Hallucinations of Alfred I almost put it down for good.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed reading it, however some passages seem too long sometimes
I found Franzen's style to be patronising and unnecessarily verbose, particularly in the...Read more
1) The major characters are incredibly true to...Read more