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3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1 out of 5 stars
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on February 12, 2002
I found the book to be a chore to read. The characters and the story were simply boring.
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on September 21, 2001
Beware, parents of baby boomers. You may find out what they really think.
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on February 16, 2002
Franzen's well crafted puppets take out their garbage, and his.
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on December 31, 2006
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 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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on September 4, 2014
Franzen is a really fun writer to read in *The Corrections*.
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on February 1, 2003
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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on June 2, 2002
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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on May 5, 2002
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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on June 18, 2003
I cannot recommend this one. It drags on before attempting to make a point.
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on November 16, 2002
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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