Book Review: "The Corrections" |

Book Review: "The Corrections"

by Jonathan Franzen

Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2001

I became intrigued by “The Corrections” when a story in The Union reported that its author, Jonathan Franzen, protested Oprah Winfrey’s September logo on his book cover. He worried needlessly that the “corporate influence” would detract from his literary reputation. Two months later, he won the $10,000 National Book Foundation award.

In 568 pages, Franzen chronicles the life of a family so dysfunctional that this reader, while sympathetic, is relieved not to be a Lambert.

Enid and Alfred Lambert, parents of three grown children, exist in the Midwestern town of St. Jude to the tune of an “alarm bell of anxiety.” Enid, in her 70s, struggles with housework and paperwork. Alfred, succumbing to Parkinson’s disease and dementia, paints wicker furniture and prefers his favorite chair in the basement.

The children are Gary, trapped in a frustrating marriage; Chip, unemployed because of his own stupidity; and Denise, divorced but financially successful. They punctuate the narrative with their peccadilloes.

Franzen has written a spellbinder, a “masterpiece” in the words of Publishers Weekly. It’s easy to read, and hard to put down.

– Joan Agar

Nevada City

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