“He couldn’t figure out if she was immensely well adjusted or seriously messed up.”
The Corrections ~ Jonathan Franzen
My love-hate relationship with Franzen continued with The Corrections; and while I know that I enjoyed reading this book and I will probably read everything that Franzen writes, I can’t claim to admire him as a writer. Or perhaps there is something to admire in the fact that I can hate his characters so much, and frankly despise his male tinted writing glasses; and yet I thrill with every page I turn.
The Lamberts are a midwestern family, of three adult children and aging parents. The children are a cosmopolitan bunch now, with the oldest; Gary struggling to make his marriage work. Chip, the middle child is the creative type, who’s been kicked out of the college he was lecturing at for sleeping with a student. Denise, the youngest, has recently discovered that she is bisexual and each of these characters reek of flaws and I love it!
Alfred, the father used to have a regular middle-manager job at a railroad company. He’s repressed, strict and devoid of emotion. Now, he’s suffering from Parkinson’s and dementia and even though, I felt like he deserved it, Franzen did a good job of making me sympathize with old age and forgive him his cruel transgressions. Enid, the mother, is a nag.
The book follows the series of events that leads up to this dysfunctional (are they really?) family gathering at their old Midwestern home for one last family Christmas.
Whatever I might think of Franzen, I cannot fault his ability to turn a worn-out family-drama model into an absorbing read.
Why you should read it:
- For the saga-like family drama
- And yeah, this Franzen fellow can feckin’ write
Why you shouldn’t read it:
- Ah you won’t like any of the characters, and the question is does that really matter?
- It has boring bits and bobs that you might need to force yourself to read through, but who am I to judge?