Title: The Corrections
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Near Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Edition: First Edition.
Cloth-backed paper over boards, near fine, with two tiny specks of soiling at fore-edge of text block (nowhere infringing into the text itself); in fine dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # JC5071
Winner of the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction
Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award
An American Library Association Notable Book
Jonathan Franzen's third novel, The Corrections, is a great work of art and a grandly entertaining overture to our new century: a bold, comic, tragic, deeply moving family drama that stretches from the Midwest at mid-century to Wall Street and Eastern Europe in the age of greed and globalism. Franzen brings an old-time America of freight trains and civic duty, of Cub Scouts and Christmas cookies and sexual inhibitions, into brilliant collision with the modern absurdities of brain science, home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and the anti-gravity New Economy. With The Corrections, Franzen emerges as one of our premier interpreters of American society and the American soul.
Enid Lambert is terribly, terribly anxious. Although she would never admit it to her neighbors or her three grown children, her husband, Alfred, is losing his grip on reality. Maybe it's the medication that Alfred takes for his Parkinson's disease, or maybe it's his negative attitude, but he spends his days brooding in the basement and committing shadowy, unspeakable acts. More and more often, he doesn't seem to understand a word Enid says.
Trouble is also brewing in the lives of Enid's children. Her older son, Gary, a banker in Philadelphia, has turned cruel and materialistic and is trying to force his parents out of their old house and into a tiny apartment. The middle child, Chip, has suddenly and for no good reason quit his exciting job as a professor at D------ College and moved to New York City, where he seems to be pursuing a "transgressive" lifestyle and writing some sort of screenplay. Meanwhile the baby of the family, Denise, has escaped her disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man--or so Gary hints.
Enid, who loves to have fun, can still look forward to a final family Christmas and to the ten-day Nordic Pleasurelines Luxury Fall Color Cruise that she and Alfred are about to embark on. But even these few remaining joys are threatened by her husband's growing confusion and unsteadiness. As Alfred enters his final decline, the Lamberts must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.
Review: Critically lauded and an Oprah Book Club choice, Jonathan Franzen's third novel The Corrections is already a huge success in the US, and it's none too difficult to see why. Whereas his earlier novels, The Twenty-Seventh City and StrongMotion could be seen as single-issue works (on inner city decay and abortion respectively), the long-awaited The Corrections is far more grandiose in its ambition and its scale.
Framed by matriarch Enid Lambert's attempts to gather her three grown children back home for Christmas, The Corrections examines their lives: Enid's husband Alfred, sinking into dementia, her sons banker Gary and writer Chip (now in Lithuania) and daughter Denise, a chef, busily re-evaluating her sexual identity.
With these characters, Franzen gives himself plenty of room to examine the foibles, fears, hopes, anxieties and neuroses of 21st-century American life and the mad Lithuanian subplot provides some real laughs. But most striking and surprising about The Corrections is its reassuring normality. Despite all its well-signposted dysfunction, this remains at heart a big sprawling family saga, with all the security that implies. The book closes with Enid noting "that current events in general were more muted or insipid nowadays than they'd been in her youth" during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Now, "disasters of this magnitude no longer seemed to befall the United States". It's a line Franzen couldn't have written after 11 September, 2001--and, perhaps because of its now forgotten confidence, The Corrections is a book that readers will take to their hearts.--Alan Stewart
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