K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > The Corrections

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
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Aug 15, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 1001-core
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 and 1001
Read from December 03 to 11, 2009 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I enjoyed reading this book. It is one of those rare instances when I fully agree to all those blurbs written in the front and back covers of a book. No wonder that The Millions (Reader's Choice) voted this book as #1 novel of this decade (2000-2009) that is now about to end. It is also in the 501 Must Read Books, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, Time 100, Oprah Selections and won the National Book Award.

This book was published in 2001 at around the same time as when 9/11 happened. Since this book is about a dysfunctional (that needed "corrections") American family, each of the American readers - critics included - was probably able to see him/herself in at least one of the many characters of this book. Franzen wrote every page beautifully with all his characters well-developed that you could almost see them moving, talking and breathing. I had to hold my breath on its last few pages this morning as Franzen put the conclusion "The Corrections" closing the life story of Alfred (who refused to eat so he died) and Enid (who still sees hope despite being a new widow at the age of 75).

There was a handful of other books that I got reminded of while reading this novel. The Prince of Tides by Frank Conroy is also about a dysfunctional family of 5 with 2 sons and a daughter. The way it tackled the history of a contemporary American family also reminded me of American Pastoral by Philip Roth. The subject of dementia reminded me of two novels I recently enjoyed: Herzog by Saul Bellow and Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. Related to the last novel, I am always fascinated on how these (Franzen and Atwood) exceptional authors were able to write the thoughts of a demented person. Do they really have an idea on what is going on inside a crazy person's mind?

When Franzen refused to show up for an Oprah interview (because his book was chosen), he explained that he did not want this book to be seen as "book that mothers read" or something like that. I agree. This is for everyone, including non-Americans (like me).

One misleading small point is the picture of a child on the front cover of the book. He must have been Jonah who does not want to eat his vegetables. However, the picture seems to be in a Christmas table and I was sort of expecting that Jonah would be there in the last Christmas part. This book was collecting dust in my bookshelf but I picked it up as I thought it was about a child attending a Christmas dinner. Tricky picture, huh?

Last point to admire: the many, many small characters during the cruise were made to speak all at the same time without confusing the reader. I saw this in some of Jose Javier Reyes' movies: 2 or more characters talking at the same time but you could still understand them as they are in different tone and decibels. It's a wonder that this could be put in a prose by Franzen. Brilliant...
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12/05/2009 page 23

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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K.D. Absolutely Yes, I have been seeing hardbound copies of this book selling at P20-50. Most Oprah books I think overprinted during that time when having a book chosen by Oprah makes the book a surefire hit among readers. Even The Adventure of Edgar Sawtell (I bought 1st ed at P900+) is now selling at P50.

Anyway, this book might not hit you the way it did to me. It is a family drama and I think you will get bored with it. It is long and a bit melodramatic. But of course you can try. It might just be like when I read Vladimir Nabokov's LOLITA when I was in high school. I did not like it. But this year, at 46, when I re-read it, I found it amazing and it is now one of my Top 10 Favorite Novels Ever.

butter be scotch Thanks for reviewing K.D. I just found this in my digital library :]

message 3: by Colin (new)

Colin McKay Miller Hmm, trying to think if The Road got expensive after its (inexplicable) add to Oprah's book club.

K.D. Absolutely Should be! Oprah's books flood Manila's second hand bookshops. :)

Paul Bryant very high praise but only 3 stars...

K.D. Absolutely Oh yes, I liked it but not too much. Maybe I should change it to 4 stars?....Done! Thanks for calling my attention :)

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