So last night I finally finished The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I’m a little behind the curve in reading it (it was published in 2001), but it’s a big book. It sits there on the shelf and kind of dares you to make the effort to pick it up. Well I’m incredibly glad I finally did pick it up.
It’s the story of a disfunctional family, or maybe a normal family. Enid and Albert Lambert are fading (or at least Albert is) as they age and leave many of there trials and issues to their children Gary, Chip, and Denise. Of course, the children all have their own issues that make their lives a trainwreck too. When you combine dementia, unemployment, sexual identity, poor choices, and a jaunt in Lithuania you get a damn fine book.
The thing that The Corrections does that many books do not is fully capture the mess we make out of our lives without thinking it needs to go somewhere. The characters in this book work through their issues but really don’t fix everything so they can ride off into the sunset. They’re still flawed individuals that will go on making good and bad decisions until they die. The only real plot in the book is Enid’s desire to have her family together in St. Jude for one last Christmas. She can hold onto all of her illusions about life and her children until she gets that.
Honestly, this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I think it might crack my top ten…
Some additional reading regarding the Corrections:
- The Wikipedia Entry
- The Britannica Entry for those who prefer a real encyclopedia.
- Time Magazine puts it on its all time 100
- The publisher’s author’s page
- Salon.com article
- Buy it at Powell’s