The American novel The Corrections was written by Jonathan Franzen and published in 2001. It was a critically acclaimed novel that won several awards including the National Book Award for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. It is also listed on Amazon’s top 100 books to read.
For me, this was a bucket list book. I bought it at some airport while traveling. I started it, but, probably because of the length, never finished it. I found the book hidden away in my car a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it my full attention. I was not disappointed.
The book is about the Lambert family, a Midwestern Protestant family that is rigid when it comes to their Christian morals and ethics. Alfred and Enid are the parents with their children, Gary, Chip and Denise. Their lives from youth to adulthood are followed. Alfred is an emotionally repressed, overbearing patriarch who lives to be the model man (hard working and resolute of purpose). Enid is a moralistic, loving and overbearing mother who is missing the love and adventure that Alfred will not allow her to have. Life becomes more complicated when Alfred is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Gary, Chip and Denise, escaping the grip of their parents, all move to the east coast. Their lives tragically unfold through the years, each making one bad decision after another. Their lives collide when they meet, upon Enid’s request, for one final Christmas together.
This book is wonderfully written and will engage the reader. It becomes very hard to put down. I felt the tension and frustration of the characters. Worse, I felt the hopelessness. I knew that there was little chance of this story having a happy ending (though it ended as happy as it could have). Jonathan Franzen has a wonderful way with words that can hypnotize the reader (I am jealous).
The message of the story is thought provoking. The main theme of the book is “…the decline of the technology-driven economic boom of the nineties” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corrections). Alfred and Enid represent the industrial economy where hard work in blue collar jobs are what matter. Gary, Chip and Denise represent the service-based economy where money can be made and lost quickly. The meeting of the family represents the clash of the two systems.
This is a great book and I recommend it to anybody who enjoys a serious, thought-provoking read. It is not the easiest book to read. It is almost 600 pages and requires the reader to really pay attention. But it will have one thinking long after the last page is read.
I rate this book 5 stars of 5.
References and pictures courtesy of wikipedia.com