What I’m Reading: The Corrections

1 Nov

The CorrectionsThe Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Franzen took the fun right out of dysfunctional in the tale of the Lamberts. The plot lacked a central climax–it sort of tried to be Christmas at home, but it was a half-hearted effort–while other important plot points (like Al falling off of the cruise ship – hello!) were obscured or glazed over. All the characters, to a man, were selfish. Not that selfish people don’t make interesting literary figures; they often do. But there needs to be some element of redemption or loveable rascalism, and there was neither hide nor hair of the like. We saw a glimmer of redemption in the youngest son, but only through outsider narrative. The author declined to let us back into his head to see if the change was real. You didn’t get the sense that there was any love lost between these family members. Sometimes they needed and were even glad of each other, but that undercurrent of warmth that makes dysfunctional family stories bearable was completely absent.

The prose itself offered some craftily drawn images, but it was composed of back-to-back compound sentences, almost without variation. I probably would have sunk in the swamp of words without the interpretation of the actor (I listened to the audiobook–his voices for the matriarch and patriarch were great, the rest were so-so…one of them sounded like Burt from Sesame Street).

I grant that the Lamberts were well-drawn and probable in the extreme. The reader has no trouble imagining their existence or understanding their actions. The problem comes when we ask ourselves why we should care. There are too many real-life people and families like the Lamberts. I don’t need to spend hours of my time with fictional versions.

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One Response to “What I’m Reading: The Corrections”

  1. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff November 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Totally agree with everything you say about this book! I did finish it but it was definitely a slog.

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