Winner of the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction
Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award
An American Library Association Notable Book
Jonathan Franzen's third novel, The Corrections, is a great work of art and a grandly entertaining overture to our new century: a bold, comic, tragic, deeply moving family drama that stretches from the Midwest at mid-century to Wall Street and Eastern Europe in the age of greed and globalism. Franzen brings an old-time America of freight trains and civic duty, of Cub Scouts and Christmas cookies and sexual inhibitions, into brilliant collision with the modern absurdities of brain science, home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and the anti-gravity New Economy. With The Corrections, Franzen emerges as one of our premier interpreters of American society and the American soul.
Enid Lambert is terribly, terribly anxious. Although she would never admit it to her neighbors or her three grown children, her husband, Alfred, is losing his grip on reality. Maybe it's the medication that Alfred takes for his Parkinson's disease, or maybe it's his negative attitude, but he spends his days brooding in the basement and committing shadowy, unspeakable acts. More and more often, he doesn't seem to understand a word Enid says.
Trouble is also brewing in the lives of Enid's children. Her older son, Gary, a banker in Philadelphia, has turned cruel and materialistic and is trying to force his parents out of their old house and into a tiny apartment. The middle child, Chip, has suddenly and for no good reason quit his exciting job as a professor at D------ College and moved to New York City, where he seems to be pursuing a "transgressive" lifestyle and writing some sort of screenplay. Meanwhile the baby of the family, Denise, has escaped her disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man--or so Gary hints.
Enid, who loves to have fun, can still look forward to a final family Christmas and to the ten-day Nordic Pleasurelines Luxury Fall Color Cruise that she and Alfred are about to embark on. But even these few remaining joys are threatened by her husband's growing confusion and unsteadiness. As Alfred enters his final decline, the Lamberts must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Corrections paints a dark and funny portrait of the dysfunctional Lambert family, who are falling apart after decades of dissatisfaction. There’s Albert, the stoic patriarch who becomes dependent on others after a Parkinson’s diagnosis; Enid, the frustrated-yet-hopeful mother who attempts to bring the family together for one last Midwestern Christmas; and their three adult children, Gary, Denise, and Chip. Weaving back and forth in time, the novel follows each family member through the lies and secrets they’ve built up over the years. Franzen writes masterfully and satirically about the American obsession with progress and materialism. His novel opened our eyes to the humanity and truth of his characters’ lives—by the end, we couldn’t help but feel a part of the Lambert family.
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. 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 1999 Cahners Business Information.
It depends on what you’re looking for…
I have rarely felt that a book was so technically and thematically brilliant, but also so raw and unnerving. I can’t say I “enjoyed” this book because it is quite frankly depressing and almost “too real.” But I’ve read a lot of Franzen and he is truly an incredible writer (e.g. precise vocabulary choice, beautiful prose, relevant cultural themes, detailed character/plot development, etc.). And so while I absolutely appreciate this novel as the outstanding literary work that it is, it was often a very gut-wrenching and sad read for me. If you are looking for a book that truly and painfully reflects some of the hard and dark struggles/choices in life, this is it. If you’re looking for a story with fun and joy, or light/fast reading, this is NOT it.
This book changed my life.
If I ever got married, they'ed have to read this first