The Corrections

The Corrections

by Jonathan Franzen
3.3 458

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Overview

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429928618
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 09/15/2001
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 78,833
File size: 597 KB

About the Author

Jonathan Franzen is the author of Freedom, selected for Oprah's Book Club, The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion, and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In 1996, he was named one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. The Corrections won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer and Pen/Faulkner. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.


Jonathan Franzen is the author of Purity and four other novels, most recently The Corrections and Freedom, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including Farther Away and The Kraus Project, all published by FSG. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

1959

Place of Birth:

Western Springs, Illinois

Education:

B.A., Swarthmore College, 1981; studied as a Fulbright scholar at Freie Universität in Berlin

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The Corrections 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 458 reviews.
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
I suppose it's a reflection of my bourgeois middlebrow tastes that I didn't just hate this book but thought it badly written--Pulitzer Prize Finalist or not. It's one of those novels with an omniscient narrative with lots of Post-Modernist Stylistic Touches that Examines The Human Condition(tm)--in other words a pretentious, depressing work with unlikeable characters and turgid prose. The kind of book where paragraphs can go on for more than a page and single sentences, kept aloft with slashes, parenthesis, colons and semi-colons almost as long. (See, page 11, 17.) One with irritating affectations like referring to a fictitious school as "D-- College." (God, just make up a name already.) Every once in a while I did think there were flashes of brilliance (which is why it gets more than one star). Such as how in Part One, Enid and Alfred, an elderly Midwestern couple, are characterized through their possessions. Or in Part Two how their son Chip translates the subtext of his mother's quizzing of his girlfriend. However, not even the satiric tones could make Chip's self-absorbed academic musings bearable--maybe Franzen did that too well--I had flashbacks to the worst of my politically correct college professors. Franzen's depiction of Yuppiehood in New York City wasn't any more appealing. (And I say that as a proud native New Yorker who usually loves to see my city depicted.) I lasted till the end of the second part at page 134 because I wanted to give such a raved-about book a fair shot. By then I knew there was no way I was going to last all the way to the end at page 566 without taking it out on some innocent bystander.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Alfred Lambert was the patriarch and the disciplinarian of a family of five. However, he now suffers ignobly from Parkinson's disease and has plenty of elder care needs. His spouse Enid wants to remain loyal to her long time mate and provider, or at least her memory of him. However, she feels more like a hostage to his sickness though choosing to ignore his illness and dream about anything more uplifting to care about.

Their only daughter Denise begins a job in a hip bistro in Philadelphia. However, she puts her work in jeopardy when she begins an affair with her boss¿ spouse. The oldest son Gary struggles with depression. With the help of his wife he steps closer to the abyss of a breakdown. The youngest son Chip loses his academic job due to a student. He almost loses his life next on some fraudulent scheme in Europe. The Lambert brood appears all ready to self-destruct and yet each one keeps alive in their heart a glimmer of hope for a better future.

THE CORRECTIONS is a humorous yet extremely serious look at an American family against a backdrop of the world scene. The story line is bitter, melancholy, and yet somehow manages to be optimistic as well. Each member of the Lambert brood is a genuine individual struggling to cope with life. Though harsh in many respects, humor keeps the novel from becoming too maudlin. Jonathan Franzen, who writes a novel every decade or so, shows why he is one of the best authors with this must read classic look at the American way of life.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
Ever since Jonathan Franzen spoke out against his book being chosen as an Oprah Book Club Selection, his rating has dropped at an unbelievable rate. Wonder why??? I have been around and read many books in my life and I am 100% serious when I say that you can without a doubt ignore any review below two stars, because it probably came from an angry Oprah fan. This book is incredible!!! It has wonderful writing, the most in-depth characters I've ever had the pleasure to read about, very witty sarcasm, and incredible references to some very obscure but profound events in history. I apologize to anyone offended, but I think that this book was a bad selection for Oprah's club, because it is well beyond what her average viewer wants or understands. It deserved the National Book Award and should go down as one of the best books of the last ten years.
April-Marie More than 1 year ago
The first 15-20 pages of this book are the most boring, tedious, and grueling. However, good news, the book becomes more accessible and enjoyable after that. In this book more than many others I have read, I felt as though I really knew all of the main characters (except maybe Chip, he seemed a little hollow and unrealistic by the end). Franzen really breathes life into every person of the Lampbert family. At times, the book took a little work and was heavily riddled with thick metaphors, but in the end, they are all worth it and only give the reader a further look into the lives and minds of the characters. I would suggest this book to almost anyone who had some determination to get through some of the thicker sections. The end is much more moving than I expected, probably because by then I had such deep understanding and sympathies for the characters. It was interesting, entertaining, and gave an intimate view of an average mid-west family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is certainly unlike any other I've read, which I find refreshing. I agree with several other reviewers in how unlikable several of the characters are-- but I don't find that to be distracting, maybe a little unrealistic. What I enjoy about this book is that it is a challenging read-- I get very annoyed with books that assume I won't see through the obvious metaphors and sentimental fluff. This certainly doesn't do that- however, I do think this author thinks too much of his own intellect. His forays into his characters' lives do little to keep my interest-- I found myself skipping entire paragraphs several times, and questioning the importance of his detailed descriptions of the Lithuanian saga, incidental characters on the cruise ship, and yes, the talking terd. It was here that I felt the author's arrogance made itself pretty apparent-- shocking for the sake of being shocking and nothing else. I was greatly disappointed on that front as it truly detracted from the book's merit. For the most part though, Franzen has an astonishing control and balance in his writing. I found myself awed at times at how accurate and believable his descriptions were without insulting my intelligence. This is a truly gifted writer who unfortunately, it all too aware of his gift.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To me this book was less about the plot and more about the struggles the characters face in going through their lives. It's not necessarily the best book I've read, but once I began this novel and understood the backrounds of each character and their personalities 'which the author goes into great detail describing' it became easier to accept that the plot drags on into nothingness 'sort of'. because life doesn't always have a plot or moral like the fairy tales of our childhood, it's just lived and the experiences are just experienced, and yet the characters grow and change and go through real emotions with everything. It's a good novel to read if you're willing to take a chance to understand how the characters progression and changes through the novel form the story.
jay_havill More than 1 year ago
Jayln Havill The book, "The Corrections", tragicomedy novel written by Jonathan Franzen, scrutinizes the way of society while telling a story of a mother trying to get her broken family together again. In this novel, Franzen uses his characters Enid, Alfred and their children Gary, Chip, and Denise as "puppets" to get many different points across in this novel. Franzen lays the pretensions, greed, self-deceptions, insecurities and folly of the Lamberts, and the greater culture, as he tells of how they believe the quick-fix comforts and profitability of today's technology based world, and avoid all accountability for himself or herself or a neighbor. Franzen gets very political in this novel and yet tells a good, interesting story. Franzen uses very interesting style, going from flashbacks to the present to help identify meaning in the present. For example in the first part of the book, he constantly goes back in Chip's past and retells situations so we are better able to understand the situation going on in the present. What is also interesting about his style is that he is telling a story of a broken family while still getting a political point across. What is also interesting in Franzen's writing is how he foreshadows. For example: when Chip and Melissa go to pick up drugs from a high school friend, there is a sticker that reminds him of the "Midland Pacific Lines" logo, where later in the novel, we learn that his father used to work for Midland Pacific Lines. It is just interesting how he ties in all of those little details to make the novel even more interesting. Each character has a different story to learn from. Gary, who is a very unhappy, paranoid businessman doesn't want to admit that he is like his father, who is clinically depressed. He tries to take antidepressants to steer away of having to admit he is depressed. But in the end, he does end up like his father. Also, Chip, who has enough problems to cover his whole family, we learn that you just can't keep running away from your problems, it results in things just getting worse. There are many different themes that you can receive from this book. You get the message that there is always hope. We get this message because throughout the whole book, we are told of how the Lamberts' lives just aren't the best, but yet Franzen still shows a glimmer of hope. Like when Enid says there is a "strange yearning sense of possibility". It seems like each character has a different story to learn from. Gary, who is a very unhappy, paranoid businessman doesn't want to admit that he is like his father, who is clinically depressed. He tries to take antidepressants to steer away of having to admit he is depressed. But in the end, he does end up like his father. Also, Chip, who has enough problems to cover his whole family, we learn that you just can't keep running away from your problems, it results in things just getting worse. I would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy a challenge. You should probably be good at your economic skills and have an open mind while reading "The Corrections". This book can get complicated to read with all of the flashbacks Franzen writes, but as long as you take the time to read it slowly, you won't be disappointed.
jane1983 More than 1 year ago
It was difficult to follow and the characters were unbelievable and unlikable.
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
"The Corrections" was a very good but depressing read about a family trying to live their individual lives and maintain a semblance of a relationship as a family. Alfred is an abrasive, aging father who is diagnosed with Parkinson's and is unhappy in his retirement time. Enid is Alfred's wife, and is miserable and unfulfilled living with Alfred, in denial about his disease progression, and extremely critical of her three children, Gary, Denise, and Chip. Gary, the oldest of the three children, is in a constant battle with his wife about mental health issues. Denise, the youngest and only daughter, is in denial about her personal life as well as struggling with her position as a successful chef. Chip is a struggling screenplay writer who was fired from his job as an assistant professor at a college because of some questionable activity he was involved in. Jonathan Franzen is an excellent writer, and while I did enjoy this depressing read, I felt like the book was a little long (565 pages). However, I wasn't as disturbed by the length in "The Corrections" as I was when reading another book by Franzen, "Freedom." I thought "Freedom" could have been shortened and still been a good book, while with "The Corrections" I think the length suited the book. All in all, I'd recommend (as would Oprah, as the book is on her book club list) this book to people who like to read and can stand a long, slightly depressing novel.
Yosemite More than 1 year ago
What happens to a family when the matriarch makes her husband the scapegoat for her unhappiness? Her husband retreats and she drives her children away. And her children in turn manifest their own frstrations in varied ways, trying always to correct for the imperfections and mistakes of themselves and their parents. By turns humorous and tragic, I laughed and winced at Franzen's excellent character studies of all members of a dysfunctional, modern family. These characters will evoke recognition of someone in your own family, or someone you know, and you will remeber them long after you finish the book.
Chanel5Girl More than 1 year ago
This book is a brilliantly written and it seems Mr.Franzen put a lot of thought behind each word, sentence and theme to the book. I don't understand why or what people expect when clearly this book is intelligent and a thrill to finally read something that isn't written just because they need to put out a book for their contract. I also find it insightful and implicable in exlplaning life's undercurrent , the vibe of everyday living. I know that Oprah's books are not popular with serious readers, but if people who are intelligent and love literary books such as her picks and can relate to it's theme, it allows the experience of reading more enjoyable. I feel so bad that Mr.Franzen has received a bad rap with his books when the are pure genius! Honestly, it can't get any better than his books. It's like a secret club of people who enjoy his work. Well done Mr. Franzen.
DoreenNovak More than 1 year ago
Franzen has the unique gift of creating characters that are so outrageously diverse and spellbinding. He, like John Irving, Anne Tyler and John Steinbeck, draw the reader right into his characters' lives and when the last chapter is read, you're sorry to see it go. Outstanding!
Carolina_Book_Addict More than 1 year ago
While Franzen cannot take the place of Steinbeck in my mind, he is my favorite author. His skills are amazing and I must compare them to Steinbeck's abilities. I wanted to read Freedom and I hesitated to read The Corrections, however, Franzen blew me away with both of them. If you want insight into individual and social issues, you must read both books. I love Franzen's writing. I hope he publishes another book but I do want time to reread both of these.
nadrad More than 1 year ago
Excellent read! Seems like people will either love or hate this book. I guarantee that you'll love AND hate all the characters at the same time! Excellent work of fiction and a good view of human nature! Not sure why people would not like this book. It does not drag out ever. The pace is set well. Many of the antics of the family are quite funny. It is sad, though, to follow the decline of one of the characters who is suffering from Parkinson's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i don't understand how people could give the book one star. even if the content offended or was, at least, not interesting, it was still brilliantly written in terms of mechanics. funny, sad, and engaging, it kept me up past my bedtime for a few nights. totally good book
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so shocked to read the harsh criticism from other readers that I felt compelled to disclose my view. This book is an absolute gem. No need for me to expatiate. Read this book. I'm convinced that there was some movement afoot among Oprah lovers to bash this book as retaliation over the author's snub of the cheesy talk-show personality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book without hesitation after Mr. Franzen upset Oprah. I figured that anybody willing to tell her to go fly a kite would get my money. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book at all. I found it long, wordy, and not very interesting. In fact, I couldn't even finish it. Yet, many of the reviews here and elsewhere have praised it a great deal so maybe I will take another shot at it down the road. My wife is going to read it and if she thinks it's good, I'll try again for sure. One of the 'standards' I use for basic reading enjoyment is how anxious I am to get back to it. I'll take it with me and read a chapter here, a paragraph there, sit down in the evening and read for awhile, etc. With this book, I went an entire weekend without even an inkling of desire to pick it up. Sorry, Mr. Franzen. Maybe I'm being unfair but I don't think so.
Anonymous 7 days ago
Great review!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Certain books call to mind the eternal message of Huck Finn and the reasons why it has withstood the test of time. There is always something new to learn about time, particularly how much time and a reader's patience is saved by ending sentences and beginning new ones. Believe in Hemingway. For some, there is no better muse to have. -Concerned Reader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are few authors that can develop characters to such an extent as Franzen. Entertaining,, hilarious, poignant and well-written. If you want to read something that has some actual depth, then you should read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this whole dreary, boring, and rambling ode to an author's ego and couldn't have hated it more if I had been beaten with it as a child. Gravity's Rainbow was more enjoyable, and I compared that to drinking battery acid. This is novel that MFAs read to feel superior to people with lives.
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