The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (ebook), 2010, first published in 2001
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
From the author of ‘Freedom’, a richly realistic and darkly hilarious masterpiece about a family breakdown in an age of easy fixes.
After fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity, and their children have long since fled for the catastrophes of their own lives. As Alfred’s condition worsens and the Lamberts are forced to face their secrets and failures, Enid sets her heart on one last family Christmas.
Bringing the old world of civic virtue and sexual inhibition into violent collision with the era of hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare and globalised greed, ‘The Corrections’ confirms Jonathan Franzen as one of the most brilliant interpreters of the American soul.
THE MADNESS of an autumn prairie cold front coming through.
WHAT I THOUGHT
The Corrections is a bit of a tough book. I enjoyed some of it and other parts left me cold. I enjoyed the way the author explored family relationships and dysfunction. These themes are what drew me to this novel in the first place. I have a weakness for messed up people. I enjoyed so many things; Arthur’s deterioration as a result of Parkinson’s, Chips messed up life and Denise drifting between being gay and straight. There is also a lot I didn’t like. The chapters were far too long and by the time I managed to work my way through one, I felt worn-out and needed a lie down. The hallucinating turd scene could have been funny but really wasn’t. I enjoyed the author’s writing at some points but most of the time I found the writing long-winded and dull. I’d started to get bored by the last hundred pages and just wanted the book to end. Reading the book felt like a slow kind of torture at times. The Corrections just didn’t work for me. I wanted to like it but the book seemed determined not to be liked. I didn’t hate it but it’s not the kind of book I love either.