After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson’s disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man-or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home. (from Amazon)
The problem with waiting so long between reading a book and writing the review of it is that little details that would otherwise make that review interesting are forgotten, and so I’ve gotta apologize in advance if my review is pretty vague and overly generalized. I can sort of remember plot details, but what I remember more is the relationships between the characters.
How people interact with each other and how that differs from how they act when alone is something that really fascinates me, especially if there’s a large disparity between the two. For instance, it’d be like someone who was very friendly and outgoing on the outside, but on the inside they’re bored/lonely/angry/etc. There’s a lot of that sort of thing in The Corrections, which made me really happy, and there’s also some really good stuff about social/family obligations, big business and the individual, and the differences between metropolitan society and more rural society. All of that is the sort of thing I love reading about, and it helps that Mr Franzen’s writing is pretty freakin’ good– although it started off like a bad grad student novel, it got better pretty quickly.
There were some problems with the plot set-up, if only because there were five main characters and you can only spend so much time on each one if you want to fit them all in, so one sibling (Chip) got left out of pretty much the majority of the book (and his plotline didn’t even really make all that much sense, unless you look at it from the perspective of big business vs. individuals and ignore every other angle) and my favorite sibling (Denise) didn’t get much screentime either, but luckily Gary won me over by the end of his plotline, so it turned out all right in that respect. And I think the whole thing with trying to get Alfred into the Correctall was sort of slapdash and boring, but I might just think that because I was more interested in interpersonal relationships than Mr Franzen’s comments on modern medical practices.
I really enjoyed reading The Corrections! It’s basically everything that I love about literary fiction, with the realism and the interesting characters and whatnot. A few blips in the plot aren’t all that big a deal, and I’m sure other people, people who aren’t me and like commentary on modern societal issues as well as the relationships between people, would really enjoy this book! I sort of wish I could go back and read it over again, except I’ve got to move on to books I haven’t read already. Blast.
Read: April 21-23, 2010