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The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

The Corrections (2001)

by Jonathan Franzen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,882271177 (3.76)396
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» See also 396 mentions

English (254)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (271)
Showing 1-5 of 254 (next | show all)
I started this review once already, struggled with it, and have decided to start completely over. The problem was that I was trying overly hard to justify my feelings. The words jumbled out, page after page, full of whining and excuses. I wanted to somehow convey my strong dislike for Franzen's personality, my ambivalence toward much of this book, but my appreciation for its strong moments, and my certainty that it had cemented its status as the best book Franzen will ever write. I felt I had to somehow justify four stars for an author whose pretentious prickness has only catapulted his career. I had to explain that while an author's personality should in no way impact critique of their work, it does; Franzenisms saturates the pages of this novel. The more I tried to justify all my mixed feelings, the more I felt like a pretentious prick.

So, The Corrections. It's not a simple read. It's over inflated and lags in the middle. The characters are intentionally unlikable, but depending on the reader's preferences, some of these characters may be widely loved. Personally, my favorite character was a turd. (Really, I'm not kidding—an actual turd.) Franzen's intelligence is evident in nearly every page; the man can write. There's a crude Shakespearean quality to Franzen's tragic farce. Likely, The Corrections is the most insightful and sensitive work the author will ever create. Yes, it's meant to shock, but that doesn't keep it from shining light on human nature and family dynamics. It takes an old idea (a disastrous family reunion) and makes it interesting. Yet, there's a cloak of arrogance that envelopes it all, making the production feel a bit like a politically-minded hipster soap opera. All in all, it's not worth the hype, in my opinion, but if you read only one Franzen, this is the one.

So I offer a few kind words to a man who has few. Well done, Mr. Franzen. You've written a good novel. You're obviously very intelligent and extremely focused, and for these traits I commend you. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jan 21, 2016 |
This author sure knows his dictionary and can put together a sentence. As far as making a story interesting, he doesn't fit the bill for me. Someone likened him to a 21st Century Dickens, I think not. I finished this book because I spent $16 on the paperback. I wouldn't read anything by him again. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
This author sure knows his dictionary and can put together a sentence. As far as making a story interesting, he doesn't fit the bill for me. Someone likened him to a 21st Century Dickens, I think not. I finished this book because I spent $16 on the paperback. I wouldn't read anything by him again. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
I am begrudgingly giving this 3 stars because I will admit that Franzen is a gifted writer. I started this book in 2013, read about 1/3, put it back on the shelf and just now got back to it. My problem with Franzen is similar to my problems with John Irving. The characters are all so dysfunctional they seem to be bloated caricatures and not real people. Or if these are the real people he knows and real thoughts in Franzen's head, I feel very sorry for him. For instance, it isn't enough for one of the main characters to have an affair with her boss, she also has to have an affair with her boss's wife. Then her younger brother, a professor who was fired for sleeping with his student, can't get mixed up in fraud just in the US. Oh no, he ends up in Lithuania as a cyber criminal despite no experience with computers.

The only character who I felt I understood was Enid, the mother. She only wants her children to be near her, especially around the holidays, but the moment she sees them she nags and belittles them because they never can meet the larger-than-life expectations in her head.

As for the writing, yes it is good, but it is so detailed I almost wonder if he'd be better at short stories. I skimmed pages about making sauerkraut a modern dish and the pseudo-science involved in a possible parkinson's drug. Or of course the drawn-out hallucinations of a tormenting piece of crap (yes, like a real piece of poop).

After reading Freedom and The Corrections, I'm going to say 2 strikes and you are out Mr. Franzen. ( )
  strandbooks | Jan 18, 2016 |
Alfred and Enid Lambert raised their three children in the small Midwestern town of St. Jude. Alfred has spent his entire life as a staunchly loyal supporter of the railroad he worked for. He believes in traditional values, like the man being the head of the household and supporting the family with his money. Now that he’s retired, he spends most of his days sleeping in the basement in the one chair he finds comfortable and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Enid takes care of the house and now that the children are grown, spends her time nagging Alfred and hoarding an entire house full of things that really should be thrown away. Gary, their oldest child, is a wealthy investment banker whose goal in life is to be different from his father. His perfect marriage is failing and his perfect family is falling apart. Chip, the middle child, is a college teacher who spouts off whatever philosophy is coolest in the faculty lounge at the time and whose obsession with sex gets fired him for sleeping with a student. He ends up in Lithuania helping a former government official commit wire fraud. Denise, the youngest child, is a chef who loses her hugely successful restaurant after she has affairs with both the owner and his wife. Earlier, she scandalized her mother by marrying a Jewish man, without a proper ceremony, and then divorcing him.

Reading this book is like watching two trains racing toward each other and knowing they’re going to crash. You know you really should give up and walk away, but you keep watching because some miracle may occur that will make the situation better somehow. I’ve only given up on four books in my life, and this one almost became the fifth. After getting about a hundred pages into it, I looked up reviews online to see if it got better, and it looks like people either love or hate this novel. I hated it.

Problem number one is that the book is overwhelmingly negative. Every single character is ridiculously dysfunctional and not in the least bit likeable. I don’t have any tolerance for people who know their choices in life are making them unhappy but who prefer to complain rather than do anything to change their situation. Problem number two is that the plot takes several stupidly unrealistic turns. The whole wire fraud in Lithuania thing? Seriously? Willing suspension of disbelief is one thing, but “willing” is the key word there. The author has to ask nicely. By the time Chip got to Lithuania, I hated Franzen so much for writing this monstrosity that I wasn’t willing to do him any favors. Problem number three is the number of pages devoted to things that don’t have any bearing on the story. A couple dozen pages on the political history of Lithuania or Denise’s boss’s wife’s background? Not necessary, especially in a book that’s already nearly six hundred pages long.

Then we get to the problem of the writing style, which I would compare to a child riding a bicycle with no hands and yelling “Look at me! Look at how awesome I am! I’m better than you!” When it comes to vulgarity, swearing, or general immodesty in literature, I’m really hard to offend, but this went too far too often. I have no desire to hear as much about various characters’ various bodily fluids and sexual peculiarities as I did in this book. There are also the sentences that run on for pages without once getting close to rationality and the overly pompous vocabulary. The chapters were anywhere from a few dozen pages in length to well over a hundred pages, and there was never any telling how many pages there were between section breaks. Normally I don’t complain about how obnoxious that kind of format is, but in this case, it makes a book that’s already hard to read even more frustrating.

I will admit that the book has a few redeeming factors that would pop up just when I was ready to give up on it altogether, but they’re too little, too late to convince me to up my rating. Franzen had a good basis for a story, but he blew it. If you want a good, well-executed, character-driven story, read Anne Tyler. She takes the same kind of quirky, flawed characters that Franzen has and ends up with a novel that’s believable, enjoyable, and way better-written than The Corrections.
( )
2 vote AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 254 (next | show all)
Franzen’s brilliant achievement is that he creates a set of stereotypical characters and then opens the door and allows us see, in suspenseful, humorous, mesmerizing detail, their defining moments. What was once a silhouette becomes three-dimensional. The complexity becomes a dim mirror of our own complex interiority—writ large, the way we like it writ, because then we can’t help but see ourselves in it.
Hvis du skal ta med deg en eneste roman på sommerferie, bør det bli Jonathan Franzens "Korrigeringer". Du kan ikke gjøre noe bedre kjøp akkurat nå. Men romanen gjør deg ikke dermed til en lykkelig konsument, mener Tom Egil Hverven.
added by annek49 | editNRK, Tom Egil Hverven (Jun 24, 2002)
'Met voorsprong het beste boek dat ik in jaren gelezen heb. Het enige slechte is dat het jammer genoeg na 502 pagina's ophoudt.'
added by guurtjesboekenkast | editDe Morgen, Yves Desmet
'De correcties is een zeldzaamheid: een boek dat hoog inzet, stilistisch verbluft en niet kan worden weggelegd tot het is uitgelezen.'
added by guurtjesboekenkast | editNRC Handelsblad, Pieter Steinz
Fremragende amerikansk roman minder os om hvor nøjsomme vi i grunden er herhjemme. Litterært set.
added by 2810michael | editJyllands-Posten, Niels Lillelund

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franzen, Jonathanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freire de Andrade, Maria JoãoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groenenberg, HuubTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lameris, MarianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundgren, CajTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The madness of an autumn prairie cold front coming through.
The human species was given dominion over the earth and took the opportunity to exterminate other species and warm the atmosphere and generally ruin things in its own image, but it paid the price for the privileges: that the finite and specific animal body of this species contained a brain capable of conceiving the infinite and wishing to be infinite itself.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The Corrections is a 2001 novel by American author Jonathan Franzen. It revolves around the troubles of an elderly Midwestern couple and their three adult children, tracing their lives from the mid-twentieth century to "one last Christmas" together near the turn of the millennium.
Haiku summary
You're soldiering on . . . ?
It might become interesting . . . ?
It doesn't. Trust me.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312421273, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:05 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have flown the family nest to live their own lives. Desperate for some pleasure, Enid has set her heart on bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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