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The Corrections (2001)

by Jonathan Franzen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,701329280 (3.75)466
"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 long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and heart down the drain of an affair with a married man - or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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» See also 466 mentions

English (302)  Dutch (8)  German (4)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (328)
Showing 1-5 of 302 (next | show all)
An acerbic look at American society through the eyes of three flawed, yet likable protagonist siblings. ( )
  Audacity88 | May 28, 2022 |
"What you discover about yourself in raising children wasn't always agreeable or attractive."

"The Corrections" is centred on one family, the Lamberts. Franzen begins with a portrait of an aging couple, Alfred and Enid, in a malaise of retirement. Alfred, the former chief engineer for the Midland Pacific railroad believes a man's worth is judged by him doing 'socially useful' work, has Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Enid, his long-suffering wife, wants her three adult children, professionals living on the East Coast, to come back home to the Midwest for one last family Christmas.

The novel has no real plot, instead its a dark satirical social commentary on the decline of America's heavy industrial past (the so-called Rust Belt) as it is replaced by a hi-tech and service based economy. The reader is also given a glimpse of an Eastern European country struggling to comes to terms with a new Western free-market driven economic model.

Franzen is obviously a keen observer of the detritus of everyday family life and in his writing shows a certain humanity towards his characters even when he is having fun at their expense. Franzen’s insight into his female characters' character is impressive. He nicely portrays both the generational and geographic fractures in American society at the end of the 20th century, the two generations of the Lambert family come to contrast Midwestern with East Coast values.

There are passages which if they didn't actually make me laugh did at least make me smile which is always a good point. However, I still managed to find it really hard to like any of the characters, they all seemed to think that sex equated with love which got a little monotonous at times. After Alfred dies Enid doesn't mourn his passing instead she sees it as an opportunity for self-change making for a realistic rather than a flowery ending.

Of late many of the American authors that I've read seem to feel that quantity equates to quality. My copy of this novel was over 650 pages long and I believe that some prudent editing could have made it even more memorable. Good but no cigar. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Feb 23, 2022 |
The ending is darkly realistic. Alfred dies but Enid is not grieving. Instead, she is looking forward to life. Time is short because she is already 75. Seems cruel but that is life. And I think most of the readers will support her. That is the success of Franzen. He makes the characters alive and real. He spends a lot of time dwelling on them, sometimes too much (like Alfred's turd episode). But this gives them well-rounded personalities. You don't hate even the worst of them like Gary and Caroline. You probably wish you can give Gary a tight slap, especially when he spoils their Christmas dinner, but he does have his parents' best interests at heart. And we find that Alfred has his children's interests at heart too. Alfred left his company on the brink of retirement for Denise's sake, and he did not even chastise her for her dalliance with a much older man, only telling her in his demented state to have fun but be careful. This was such a touching moment I cried buckets. Enid had her moment too when she decided to unfriend Bea because of the latter's views on lesbianism (parents do know their children best). There were hilarious moments too. For example, Chip hiding the salmon in his pants, and only the readers know the unconventional route the salmon took. I must also make mention of the dialogue, which is a delight. Real, and not stilted. ( )
  siok | Feb 1, 2022 |
Jonathan Franzen is an expert at creating characters, but I didn’t get into this book as much as the other two of his which I have read. The story of Enid, Alfred and their 3 adult children. ( )
  Amzzz | Dec 24, 2021 |
I absolutely loved this book! It's about a dysfunctional family making the transition from 50s-era-boomer to a messy-modernity (the tale of modern America). The premise is that the Dad has Parkinson's and the Mom wants all her grown children to gather for one last good Christmas together. Each of the 5 family members get their own long chapter and each is painted so well that by the time they all come together you feel like you're a family member too.

The writing is so horribly darkly hilarious. The story itself is dark, sad, sometimes funny, and redemptive. If you want a nice happy ending where everyone hugs and cries together this is not the book for you. It's long and there's some raw, rough bits. And the Dad, he has Parkinson's, so that part is pretty bleak.


I thought it was really interesting that the family basically moves beyond Dad. They don't really forgive him they just keep growing and moving on while he dies alone and sad like 1950s America.
( )
1 vote technodiabla | Nov 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 302 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franzen, Jonathanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abarbanell, BettinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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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To David Means and Geneve Patterson
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The madness of an autumn prairie cold front coming through.
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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)

"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 long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and heart down the drain of an affair with a married man - or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home."--BOOK JACKET.

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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.

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