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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why can't people can't enjoy a good book?
Let me sum up for you every bad review you might read here: Wah wah, this book didn't fulfill my preconceived expectations. Wah wah, I only like stories where the characters are 100% likeable.
My wife and I are reading this book right now and I can tell you this book will challenge you. Can't deal with that? Try another book. In fact, might as well forget books...
Published on June 11 2002 by D. Cochran

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Characters? What about the writing?
I'm slogging my way through this book with some measure of disbelief. I'm an avid reader, simply LOVE Don Delillo (to whom Franzen is often compared) but I really don't like this book. At all. I keep thinking there's something clouded in my judgment -- that I can't see what everyone else sees so I keep reading, in pain I might add. From the first laborious paragraph...
Published on June 10 2002


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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books ever written!, Dec 31 2006
This review is from: The Corrections (Paperback)
When a novel is published with the hype, publicity and media fanfare of "The Corrections" it seems to create an odd backlash.

The book is rarely judged on its own merits, on whether of not it is simply a good, entertaining novel, but instead, judged on whether of not it is the greatest piece of literature ever created, an inherently unfair standard. There are probably a whole plethora of reasons as to why this is the case, from inflated expectations to the bizarre animosity many readers of "serious" fiction have with anything that becomes too popular or makes money.

In other words, I would be willing to bet that had "The Corrections" been published without the immense fanfare, you would find its average Amazon.com user rating much higher, since people would be judging it on its own terms, instead of on whether or not it is deserving of its status as the "it" book of the time.

After finishing, "The Corrections", two things are for sure: Franzen is an excellent writer, equally adept at both humor and drama, and he also has a keen and observant eye for human behavior. Franzen's characters are some of the most three-dimensional characters to ever hit the page. Each character is so fully fleshed out that it is hard to believe they are fictional.

Franzen doesn't just give you just a base level understanding of each character and then move on, instead you get even the most subtle details of each characters personality. You have the overbearing mother, who stubbornly refuses to face reality, the repressed, distant father rapidly losing control of his body and mind, to their grown children, all of whom, in their own way, have made a mess of their own lives in an attempt to "not be like their parents". While the topic of dysfunctional families if far from original, it is rare to see the subject dealt with in such an entertaining and authentic way, without stereotypical characters or a convoluted plot.

I had two criticisms of "The Corrections", having nothing to do with the story itself, but more to do with the length and pacing of the book. Each primary character in the novel is given his or her own section, almost like a novel within a novel, which, while serving to give the reader a detailed understanding of each character, did get a bit tedious. The section where the parents, Alfred and Enid, are on a seniors cruise was so long and often boring that after awhile I was ready to jump overboard myself. That chapter easily could have been cut down by half.

Also, while I appreciated that each character was given equal coverage in the book, I thought the novel would have flowed better had it been paced differently. Instead of separating each characters story into individual sections, I think it would have been wiser to have interspersed between the various characters throughout the book.

Franzen could have kept all the same information in the novel, but made each section seem less exhausting. Another problem with dedicating an individual section of the novel to each character was it made it a bit hard to keep all of the various stories straight. For example, Chip, the character who is the focus of the novel's first section, doesn't return until several hundred pages later, so by the time he reappeared I had forgotten so much about his situation that I had to spend an annoyingly long amount of time going back to the first section of the book to refresh my memory.

Outside of these two complaints, I thought "The Corrections" was a solid effort.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American Family Woes, Feb. 1 2003
By 
Thea M. Ryan (South Dakota, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Corrections (Audio CD)
If you're already cynical about the state of the American family, this is a good book to read. My cynical summary: Mean dad gets his in the end with terrible disease but family is so messed up they don't see the irony in it. They only see their own selfish lives. Long-suffering wife finally gets her wish... to run her own life. How sad.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it got better, but I didn't get that far, June 2 2002
By A Customer
I tried, I really tried. I hung in there until the excruciating, long, drawn out description of Alfred trying to sit on Chip's chaise longue. I don't know if he ever did sit down. Yawn.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for your book/quilting club..., May 5 2002
By A Customer
The controversy and hype surrounding The Corrections... Of course, there's the part about corporate ownership, but what I think is the real issue, the reason Franzen didn't see his novel as an Oprah choice, is maybe he knew Oprah's Book Clubbers would simply not understand the underlying themes of the novel. "My God! There's a talking turd in the book! Put it in the fire!" It's a kneejerk reaction to something uncomfortable, and to hinge value of the entire work on this one scene, this couple of pages (I'll admit, I took a long break from reading the book when I reached it), is incredibly narrow-minded. Further, after reading several reviews on the site, I was alarmed at how only a few wrote about some of the true themes from the book. The Corrections is not simply a book about a dysfunctional family. Nor is it just a satire of internet culture, pharmaceutical dependence, or the stock market boom. It is how these fit together into the American experience, certainly not ALL experience, but definitely a comment on what's perceived as important in our society, from the author's skewed point of view.
That said, The Corrections is not a brilliant novel. Ambitious, but far from perfect. I did feel a little encumbered by some of his thicker passages, but it was readable. The ending seemed tacked on; there was a "Then this happened, then this happened" feel to it, resolutions that were just a little too tidy to have any resonance. Also, I felt manipulated when I was taken far from a story line I enjoyed. That shifting of gears between stories is discouraging. The cruise dragged in the beginning but picked up in the end.
The characters are hard to like, definitely. There is no spiritual conclusion to it (is that what Oprah readers really want?). It seems the most savage reviews started like this: "I was the only person in my book club to finish this...", which leads me to believe Franzen was right in questioning the inclusion of his book. The Corrections is not for everyone. The plot isn't uplifting. The characters are not easily identified with. Obviously it isn't for the regular Oprah readers.
Case in point: a reviewer complained the book overlooked religion. How does religion factor into consumer culture, or the stock market, or the neurosis war in the Lambert household? The characters are products of mainstream American culture. Does it surprise anyone they're not very good human beings? Could it be Franzen's contempt for the Lamberts is really contempt for our society's misplaced values? A lot of these one star reviewers really don't scratch the surface. I'm not saying my interpretations are more valid than anyone else's, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of effort to pry underneath aesthetical objections to the Corrections. But again, the book isn't for everyone.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Reader on Long Island, June 18 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Corrections: A Novel (Paperback)
I cannot recommend this one. It drags on before attempting to make a point.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The American Family Under Stress, Oct. 3 2010
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
To qualify as a bona fide reader of Franzen's new book, "Freedom", I thought I would catch up with one of his earlier works, and I am glad I did. In "The Corrections", Franzen, a relatively new writer to the world scene, delivers an outstanding fictional account of the trials and tribulations facing the extended Lambert family in the modern USA. This is a story that recounts the break-up of a typical nuclear baby boom family as it moves through succeeding generations. No longer do the parents have the authority or power to keep the children together in an ongoing, harmonious relationship, if it ever existed in the first place. As Gary, Chip and Denise go out into the world to make their own way, Enid and Alfred back home in St. Jude are valiantly and, at times desperately, trying to keep the home fires burning out of a personal need to preserve some enriched but false recollection of the past. Meanwhile, their real lives, like their children's, have hit some very serious road bumps that threaten to shatter the illusion of stability. Health issues, financial insolvency, bad business deals, marriage failure, and sibling rivalry all threaten the cozy picture that Enid, the ever-fearful mother, has fabricated for her progeny. As the tale gains in intensity, the cracks in the familial veneer get ever wider to the point that each of the Lambert clan expresses attitudes that are, at best, self-serving and at cross-purposes to each other's well-being. Any sense of agreement as to how to proceed in the future is lost because they have become seriously disconnected with their past. They are all out there, in the very oppressive here-and-now, individually trying to ward of a string of impending failures. The forces of social disorientation and distrust are only dispelled when Franzen introduces some real compassion into the plot in the midst of a Christmas Day meltdown when various family members straggle into St. Jude's for one last time together. It is there that the family comes to grips with what has been keeping it apart for so long: an incessant compulsion to correct the great injustices of the past in order to get on with their lives. The answer, for Franzen, is found ironically in each of the Lambert children learning how to work together to deal with a pivotal issue that, when resolved, will put paid to any frustrating past and pave the way to a happier tomorrow. They all have to focus on handling the threatening constraints of Alfred's deteriorating health in such a way as to be both practical and compassionate. As the Lambert paterfamilias, Alfred deserves to die with dignity but should not be allowed to hold up the lives of the rest of the family indefinitely as they attempt to move forward. Living in a fantasy world where such common concerns are papered over only makes them worse and, at times in this tale, very funny to the outsider. This novel made a special impression on me as it addressed the many interpersonal conflicts that can emerge in the extended family. I found Franzen's writing style, while honest and hard-knocking, to be also tender enough to give hope to those caught in the quagmire of familial dysfunctionality.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Philodoxic drivel from a Micrencephalus, Nov. 16 2002
By 
Pierce (Edmonton, AB, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Corrections (Paperback)
This book is about as pedestrian as it gets. The characters are flat and typical. Maybe Franzen should have made their "corrections" before he started writing. It just doesn't seem like he knows them. A character in a novel like this must be someone that you could conceivably and believably meet. They have to have their own personality over which the author himself has little control, but Franzen is beating his characters into submission with a pen.
My major peeves with this story:
1) The style is too constructed, Franzen is a poor writer and attempts to hide it by doing something different and experimental, but his experiment would be more effective if it were coffee house poetry. Save it for the cappuccino drinkers.
2) The language is excessive. Use the words in your own lexicon. If you need a thesaurus to find a better word, maybe you need to start taking those Increase your Word Power tests in Reader's Digest. Use your instincts, not your pretentions.
- zoysia (Pg. 1) perennial grass
Not in a typical pocketbook dictionary or thesaurus, not even in an abridged Oxford. I found it in the Scrabble Player's Dictionary.
- gerontocratic (Also on the first page) authority or government of old people
Yes, we all think you're very clever. Your adjectives are overblown and unecessary. Here's a phrase "verbal eructation".
Maybe I'm just being a "mome" (That's a nit-picking critic Mr. Franzen) but I just read a review of Franzen's new book, in which he "laments the fiction being produced by many younger writers today". It takes courage to write. The only reason I have been so willing to nit-pick over Franzen's book is that he is so willing to dismiss the efforts of others.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Uncorrections, June 2 2002
By A Customer
This is the worst book I have read in a really long time. There is not one likeable character in the book. After reading about half the book, I skipped to the end (something I never do) hoping to find out that there was something redemeaming in the ending. Not so. Enid is the same hateful character she was throughout the book. In fact they all are. This book shouldn't be called the Corrections which leads you to beleive that these people are going to have some life change during this story. It should be called the Uncorrections. No one changed and they were all awful human beings!! One reveiwer wrote he could related to every character. I don't know whom he hangs out with but these characters were all scum of the earth types to me. None of them are someone I'd want to know. This was not enjoyable or interesting reading. I can't wait for my book club meeting next month. Everyone I've talked to so far hates this book. It should be a great discussion - ripping this story apart!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excruciating, Sept. 20 2010
This review is from: The Corrections: A Novel (Paperback)
Are you kidding me, what a waste of money and time. The characters are pathetic, the language is arrogant and unnecessary, I had to stop I couldn't justify punishing myself any longer
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather read my old college chemistry book., July 16 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Corrections (Paperback)
I am really disappointed to have to say this, but I've spoken with several people who have agreed that The Corrections was the most difficult book to get through...mainly because it is just plain boring.
Some of the characters were interesting in their dysfunction, but the effort that was put into reading this novel would have been better spent earning my Ph.D.
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The Corrections: A Novel
The Corrections: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen (Paperback - 2002)
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