Mar 29 2006

The Corrections

Published by at 6:23 am under Books

by Jonathan Franzen

A very good, no excellent, novel. The stories of the lives of a midwestern American family in the city of St Jude which sounds to me like a cross between St Louis and Kansas City. It is very well written and very readable.

Very vivid descriptions of relationships and responses that are often funny but ring true. The first chapter grabbed me and I was hooked. It is a clever description of the low key bickering, struggling, and resentments that govern the lives of a long married St. Jude couple who are the parents of the family which consists of three adult children: a failed(?) son who is an academic (deconstructionist), a successful(?) daughter who is a chef, and a successful(?) son who is a financial manager.

In a back and forth in time and space weaving, the stories of the five family members are told. Parents Al (with Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.) and Enid his wife. Gary the straight-laced successful but frustrated oldest son, Chip the unfocused, unreliable, messed up son, and Denise the youngest (also pretty messed up, but a very successful chef). Not much point in summarizing the ‘action’ or plot as it is secondary and mainly contributes to the characterizations of the people.

Parts of it could be characterized as black comedy, but its total effect is not a downer. Parts of it had me laughing out loud. A lot of fun, wit and intelligence.

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