I had been putting off reading Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” for a long time. I had read a review a while back that said it was about medication and how people are addicted to medication these days, and it didn’t seem (from the review) to be my cup of tea, since I know only a few people addicted to meds. However, after reading article after article canonizing Franzen as the quintessential Great American Novelist of our time (see a related WOWO post here), I jumped in. And I have to agree with the fanfare–it’s a great novel.
The story focuses on the Lambert family–father Alfred, mother Enid, and their three grown adult children: Gary, Chip, and Denise. Alfred is suffering from Parkinsons and is rapidly degenerating, while his wife Enid is obsessed with the lives of her children. Gary is a financially successful but psychotic and controlling family man, Chip is an academic who has made lots of mistakes and doesn’t seem to learn from them, and Denise is a professional cook struggles with her sexuality and career. The story is a family novel, about the trials of 20th century living. The book is amazing in its expanse–it’s an epic story that covers a specific time yet maintains its timeless relevance. The family conflicts are very real–I’ve met families that operate in the same way with similar power struggles.
Salon has a good review here. Check it out.