Jeffrey Otto's Reviews > The Corrections

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
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Apr 09, 2011

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Read in January, 2007

My ambivalence towards this book feels very similar to the ambivalence with which its omniscient narrator lays out the plots and twists of Family Lambert. To be sure there are strong characters, richly descriptive passages, and a sensational treatment of looming dementia from deep within the mind of one so afflicted. But the novel's plot failed to impress. What was billed on the jacket cover as a "catastrophe of lives" felt supremely pedestrian in nature. The real 'tragedy' of Franzen's work, in my opinion, is that he didn't feel a need to pull the characters further into the muck of complicated existence and then force upon them the type of cathartic experience that could truly account for new perspectives and social change. And so life goes on in St. Jude, a land of "conspicuously useless space" and "conservative oak trees," a place where "radically, shamefully other things" are driven away so that "nice people" can continue their appeared existences. (c) Jeffrey L. Otto

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