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Showing 1-10 of 355 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,527 reviews
on August 7, 2015
Franzen is a master of language. He controls every page, every sentence, every syllable with a hypnotist's skill. The words on the page dance for him. This, of course, wouldn't be enough if he didn't deliver a fantastic story, but he does.

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.
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on January 23, 2016
I discovered Franzen quite by accident over a decade ago and loved this book. When I read Freedom in 2010, I was so inspired by Franzen's moral insight into the psyche of the everyday person that I began to write. Later, after devouring all things Franzen, I returned to The Corrections and fell in love all over again but even more deeply as age allows me to appreciate his insight even more.

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.
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on October 22, 2015
great story about a highly dysfunctional family struggling to come to terms with each other and the world around them. The narrative is complex and told through the eyes of five family members. The story revolves around Alfred and Enid lambert and their three children living in a small midwestern city. Alfred Lambert is a stern, old school dad who keeps a tight lid on his emotions and finds it hard to show affection to the people he loves. His wife, Enid, lives with the fantasy that alfred will eventually change and become the affectionate husband she desires.
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.
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on November 19, 2015
This family illustrates how our constant efforts to "fix' our lives leave us unable to see and hear each other, unable to see the true love and affection in our seemingly dysfunctional relationships. The only characters with a window on reality are those that have given up their frantic strivings, especially the father as he is forced to succumb to physical infirmities. Envy, greed and self-consciousness seem to make some of these family members blind to each other, and much of their lives are wasted in pointless conflict and pain. Love, joy and peace are always there, but the family is distracted by their individual need to prove a point, or to make "corrections" so they can't see what is right in front of them.
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on August 26, 2013
Way too many tour de force diatribes that added little to the story, ergo WAY too long. But the insights into dysfunctional people is remarkable. I loved FREEDOM; this one not so much. Perhaps a lesson was learned in the interim (LOL). Definitely not an 'enjoyable' read, but worth the time. Again, what a gift this man has for words and ideas expressing incredibly complex concepts in a few words (yeah, surprise on that). He clearly has a true understanding of acute pain, especially the pain that only 'family' can inflict.
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on August 24, 2015
Jonathan Franzen shows with great insight how personality defects can be passed on from one generation to the next. The latter is then left to untangle erroneous presumptions held since childhood and try to make sense of it all.

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.
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on October 9, 2002
I was leery about reading this book and only read it because our book club chose it. We did it reluctantly because of all the hype surrounding it. Most people whom I knew had read it, didn't really like it because it's not really what you would call a happy book. They found it depressing, frustrating and somewhat of a turnoff. Yet, one doesn't win National Book Awards for poor writing.
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.
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Whether we like it or not, books are introduced to the public after previewers and reviewers pass judgment in the Newspaper Book Reviews, on talk shows, and on the very jacket cover of the book in question. We are a media driven nation and despite our need to feel that we think for ourselves the media influences how we perceive art and literature more than we appreciate. When was the last time you read a book that was a virginal experience between you and the author?
I read a glowing review of Franzen's new book and was assured that it was the great American novel of the century. Suddenly it was #1 on the Best Selling List, due in part to the parlay between Oprah Winfrey and the author. Gossip. But by that time I had ordered the book and was stuck with reading it. For some reason (prejudice from reviewers whose opinions I respect) I had decided that this was not going to live up to the hype. In the end I have to admit that despite its weaknesses, The Corections is a good read.
Problems: Franzen is giving us yet another dysfunctional American family (one wonders if there are any non-dysfunctional ones out there) and pushes for nearly 600 pages through the morass of just why each member of this five person family is a loser. This does not create a setting in which we can identify with a group of maladjusted people about whom it is hard to care. If you stop with that premise then the book is a tedious waste of your time. BUT..............stay with this book to the final "perfect Christmas" of the mother's dreams (a gathering of a clan tainted by the prodigal life outside the midwestern town of St. Jude) and you wil be rewarded with some fine writing. Franzen may dally too long over describing scenes that are of minimal importance, may probe character defects below the level of tolerance, but step back and read how this fine wordsmith manipulates the English language and I think you'll have to agree that this tome is important. All plodding aside, the story does move along and takes us all over the globe, tainted by the universal misuse of the atmosphere and planet surface that has become commonplace in 2001. And even if we don't really care about this cast of characters, their stories ring with a resonance of our current state of civilization that makes us stop, take notice, and hopefully undergo some self metamorphsis.
Isn't the purpose of art just that? Isn't it more important that something creates enough controversy that we find ourselves actually communicating with each other about our strong subjective feelings? Even if you end up not liking this story I don't think anyone can deny that Jonathan Franzen has created a book important enough to make us think and react. And for that reason I think this is a fine book!
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on March 17, 2015
The Corrections is mainly a family story. It goes deep into the feelings, fears and emotions of each member of the Lamberts. A Christmas reunion, which becomes an obsession for Enid -the mother-, quickly turns into an excuse to join the broken pieces of what remains of a family. The children, all in their 30's, reveal their lives and misfortunes as the chapters progress developing many parallel stories. No one is perfect nor guilty. Everyone is to be blamed.
Apart from being so well written, this is a very profound book. I believe you need to have endured some of the things described there in order to fully grasp the message that the author wants to transmit.
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on May 17, 2013
I had heard a lot of hype surrounding this book prior to picking up a copy of it. I nursed 'The Corrections' over the course of about a month, and thoroughly enjoyed Franzen's tale. The book's prose, plot, and organization were unlike anything I had ever picked up before. I am just beginning to read seriously again, and would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking a great contemporary novel. It is neither too challenging to read, nor too light. Franzen's character development is absolutely superb. I loved reading about all three of the adult children, and their accompanying dysfunction.

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.
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