Critically lauded and an Oprah Book Club choice, Jonathan Franzen's third novel The Corrections
is already a huge success in the US, and it's none too difficult to see why. Whereas his earlier novels, The Twenty-Seventh City
could be seen as single-issue works (on inner city decay and abortion respectively), the long-awaited The Corrections
is far more grandiose in its ambition and its scale.
Framed by matriarch Enid Lambert's attempts to gather her three grown children back home for Christmas, The Corrections examines their lives: Enid's husband Alfred, sinking into dementia, her sons banker Gary and writer Chip (now in Lithuania) and daughter Denise, a chef, busily re-evaluating her sexual identity.
With these characters, Franzen gives himself plenty of room to examine the foibles, fears, hopes, anxieties and neuroses of 21st-century American life and the mad Lithuanian subplot provides some real laughs. But most striking and surprising about The Corrections is its reassuring normality. Despite all its well-signposted dysfunction, this remains at heart a big sprawling family saga, with all the security that implies. The book closes with Enid noting "that current events in general were more muted or insipid nowadays than they'd been in her youth" during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Now, "disasters of this magnitude no longer seemed to befall the United States". It's a line Franzen couldn't have written after 11 September, 2001--and, perhaps because of its now forgotten confidence, The Corrections is a book that readers will take to their hearts.--Alan Stewart
Advance praise for The Corrections: 'Jonathan Franzen has built a powerful novel out of the swarming consciousness of a marriage, a family, a whole culture -- our culture. And he has done it with a sympathy and expansiveness that bends the edgy modern temper to a generous breadth of vision.' Don DeLillo 'Funny and deeply sad, large-hearted and merciless, The Corrections is a testament to the range and depth of pleasures great fiction affords.' David Foster Wallace 'In its complexity, its scrutinizing and utterly unsentimental humanity, and its grasp of the subtle relationships between domestic drama and global events, The Corrections stands in the company of Mann's Buddenbrooks and DeLillo's White Noise. It is a major accomplishment.' Michael Cunningham