A fascinating portrait of a midwestern family... aging. Grown children, their interactions with their parents, spouses, etc. Sad and trenchant. Like John Updike, but less wordy, like Anne Tyler, but less quirky. Well sketched characters. Enjoyable, but hard to swallow in parts (recognize too much of my own family, maybe?).
Like watching a train wreck! People seem to either love or hate this book. I got so connected to the characters, I found it difficult to read because they make such bad, heart wrenching decisions. As The Miami Herald wrote, "Wonderously devastating."
Jonathan Franzen's exhilarating novel The Corrections tells a spellbinding story with sexy comic brio, and evokes a quirky family akin to Anne Tyler's, only bitter. Franzen's great at describing Christmas homecomings gone awry, cruise-ship follies, self-deluded academics, breast-obsessed screenwriters, stodgy old farts and edgy Tribeca bohemians equally at sea in their lives, and the mad, bad, dangerous worlds of the Internet boom and the fissioning post-Soviet East.
All five members of the Lambert family get their due, as everybody's lives swirl out of control. Paterfamilias Alfred is slipping into dementia, even as one of his inventions inspires a pharmaceutical giant to revolutionize treatment of his disease. His stubborn wife, Enid, specializes in denial; so do their kids, each in an idiosyncratic way. Their hepcat son, Chip, lost a college sinecure by seducing a student, and his new career as a screenwriter is in peril. Chip's sister, Denise, is a chic chef perpetually in hot water, romantically speaking; banker brother Gary wonders if his stifling marriage is driving him nuts. We inhabit these troubled minds in turn, sinking into sorrow punctuated by laughter, reveling in Franzen's satirical eye:
Gary in recent years had observed, with plate tectonically cumulative anxiety, that population was continuing to flow out of the Midwest and toward the cooler coasts.... Gary wished that all further migration [could] be banned and all Midwesterners encouraged to revert to eating pasty foods and wearing dowdy clothes and playing board games, in order that a strategic national reserve of cluelessness might be maintained, a wilderness of taste which would enable people of privilege, like himself, to feel extremely civilized in perpetuity.
Franzen is funny and on the money. This book puts him on the literary map.
This winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist made Time magazine's Top 100 English language novels. It is a sweeping family epic that is both both comic and tragic. Enid has lived with boredom for too long. She's ready to spread her wings. Unfortunately her husband, Alfred, is becoming increasingly frightened of the world as he slides down into the horrors of Parkinson's disease. Their three children have busy lives and crises of their own and find it difficult to make time for their parents, especially since they've all flown the coop and moved away. Enid longs for just one last Christmas together as a family. This is a masterful and wholely original novel that satirizes modern life while plumbing it's heartbreaking humanity. A must read!
I have to connect to the characters when I read a book. I could not feel for anyone in the story and instead focused on the writing style. I don't enjoy that so I put it down.