The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen


The Corrections is a very Cool book, capital C. Probably (almost definitely) much cooler than I am.

Jonathan Franzen writes a satirical saga about a mid-western family: Alfred is a failing patriarch, Enid is his worried and domestic wife. Their three adult kids are corporate family-man Gary, gorgeous chef Denise and anarchic ex-academic Chip.

We follow them in their separate struggles and navigating their relationships with one another as they are steadily drawn back to the Mid-West family home by Alfred’s dementia and the coming of Christmas.

There are ludicrous situations and monologues: probably supposed to be ironically funny but actually odd and tedious. These include a bonkers sequence on a cruise ship, extensive chemical formulas, and sustained hallucinations about poo. I frankly didn’t get it.

The best bits come from the interactions with the other family members. We see through Denise’s eyes that Enid’s worrying is actually nagging commentary on her life choices, or through Gary’s that Chip is Alfred’s golden boy.

The mundane, like who pays for the shopping or the argument over dinner, create poignant and touching moments. They capture what it means to be a family- not the ‘zany’ Lithuanian coup or double affair with a married couple.

Read: To impress your new hipster boyfriend.

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