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Monday, April 23, 2018

The Corrections (2001) by Jonathan Franzen


Book Review
The Corrections (2001)
by Jonathan Franzen

  I've been consciously avoiding reading The Corrections since it was released in 2001.  I was, at the time, a fan of his early novels, Twenty Seventh City, about an Indian-American mayor of St. Louis, and Strong Motion, but the hubbub over The Corrections (Oprah's Book Club, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist) turned me off, as did the precis of the book about a dysfunctional Midwestern American family.   Finally reading it 2018, it was everything, and more, that I thought it would be vis-a-vis the problems of privileged white folks in mid to late 20th century America.

  Which is not to say that The Corrections doesn't have it moments, particularly in the portions that deal directly with the diminished capacity of the family patriarch and the struggles of his wife and three children to deal with it.  I listened to the Audiobook version which I learned, only afterwards, was a, horrors, abridged version.  Reflecting on the experience though, my horror lessened.  Surely the abridgment was justified. 

  Franzen deserved his success, if only for the fact that he really does blaze new territory in the depiction of the onset of alzheimers/dementia, which I believe is a growth area for literary fiction.  The problems of the children themselves range from unsympathetic to unbelievable, and the mother doesn't come off much better.  Or maybe it all hits a little bit too close to home for his child of Jews who moved from St. Louis to San Francisco within the same general timeline of this book. 

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