Ozimandias's Reviews > The Corrections

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
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Aug 29, 11

Read in August, 2011

Franzen's book is huge. I always wonder whether so many words are necessary to convey "the point." This book made me question the need for so many words, but by the end, I forgave Franzen. This book made me feel that people live lives that are so underwhelming and not at all what they had planned for themselves. Life just seems to get away from people so easily. It was a sad realization, as it impacts myself and almost everyone I know. The Lamberts are a middle class midwestern family, not very religious, very traditional despite that, that seemingly are crushed under the weight of each member's expectations and assesments of the others. Alfred is the patriarch who is succumbing to Parkinson's disease, a man who loved his family but wasn't of the era when you would say such things. In that silence lived Enid, his wife, who grew to be greatly dissatisfied with her life, and their three children, Gary, who, as the eldest, was going to life Alfred's life, but do it better; Chip, who also tried to live the respectable life, but failed; and Denise, their talented daughter who seemed never to care about marriage and children. The expanse of pages allows you to really know who these people are, and by the end of the book, you can see them. Their tales were told separately, and then dovetail around the growing force of Parkinson's and Christmas. I laughed at times, and was saddened by how hard it was for everyone to find a life that was fulfilling. It is like people flailing in the dark looking for answers. Some people find that course corrections are necessary and are willing to take them, like Denise, Chip and Enid, while others, run out of time or are too stubborn to change, like Alfred and Gary. If I read this book at a younger age, I wouldn't have appreciated it. There is lots that is different from my experience, but as I get older, and my family gets older, I realize that in the end, these are the people to whom you are lastingly connected. Those relationships are the longest we will ever have. This book examined those relationships through very specific lives, leading to powerful generalizations about how we build our lives and how we define fulfillment. If only it were a little shorter.
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