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The Corrections

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  164,563 ratings  ·  9,679 reviews
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction
Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award
An American Library Association Notable Book

Jonathan Franzen's third novel, The Corrections, is a great work of art and a grandly entertaining overture to our new century: a bold, comic, tragic, deeply moving family drama that stretches from the Midwest at mid-century to Wall S
Paperback, 653 pages
Published September 2nd 2002 by Fourth Estate Paperbacks (first published September 1st 2001)
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Melody So late into this conversation, but I wish I had read these comments before I wasted my time. I couldn't even finish it. When I told my friend I was s…moreSo late into this conversation, but I wish I had read these comments before I wasted my time. I couldn't even finish it. When I told my friend I was slogging through it I knew it was time to quit.(less)
Bl Late reply, but I couldn't either. It took me a very long time to finish it. At one point I left it behind at a restaurant, and didn't even notice it …moreLate reply, but I couldn't either. It took me a very long time to finish it. At one point I left it behind at a restaurant, and didn't even notice it had been there for 2 weeks. I should have abandoned it, but I was 3/4 of the way through the book and too invested. The characters are totally unlikable people. A lot like my family. In fact, after reading this book, I think of it often, which is ironic. I think he captures the nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling some families cause. People behaving badly, yet believing they are successful and even virtuous.(less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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July 2012

Facts concerning Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections
•Print runs of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections are believed to be the largest in recorded history.
•Although no reliable count exists, experts believe that the number of printed copies of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections runs into the hundreds of millions in the United States alone, with perhaps more than one billion copies of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections in existence worldwide.
•Jonathan Franzen's nove
Sep 04, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people dying a slow and painful death and want to make it worse
Shelves: modern-canon
4/19/17 update: I appreciate that so many people have "liked" this review and/or commented on it, whether we agree or not. Please know that I will not be interacting with any comments as I remember almost nothing about this novel other than the repulsion I felt toward it. I cannot add anything worthwhile to a discussion or engage in any intelligent discourse unless I read it again.... which I think we all know I am not going to do. That being said, anyone using the comments section to make a per ...more
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
While reading The Corrections I really understood the meaning of ‘schadenfreude’ because I despised almost every character in this book so much that the more miserable their lives got, the more enjoyment I took from it. And when a shotgun was introduced late in the novel, I read the rest of it with my fingers crossed while muttering "Please please please please please please..." in the hope that at least one of those pitiful shits would end up taking a load of buckshot to the face.

The Lambert’s
Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“And when the event, the big change in your life, is simply an insight—isn't that a strange thing? That absolutely nothing changes except that you see things differently and you're less fearful and less anxious and generally stronger as a result: isn't it amazing that a completely invisible thing in your head can feel realer than anything you've experienced before? You see things more clearly and you know that you're seeing them more clearly. And it comes to you that this is what it means to lov ...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My first Franzen.

Really I don't even know how to start this review. I could begin, I suppose, by discussing the pure perfection of his writing. It is REALLY DAMN GOOD. If I could break reviews down into little sections, he'd get 10 stars for his style/technique. Excellent.

On the other hand, I can't give this a full 5 stars. Or can I? Yeah, it was well written. The depth of the characters and the storyline maybe just a hair short of phenomenal. ???

Why do I bother with fiction? I feel gui
Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
JONATHAN FRANZEN'S TOP TEN RULES FOR WRITERS (as given to The Guardian on 20 Feb 2010)

with additional commenty comments by me :

1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.

Hmm, well, maybe. I can't think Hugh Selby had very friendly thoughts when he wrote his brilliant Last Exit to Brooklyn, it reads like he wants to shove all of us into a landfill site and have done with the human race. But quite often that's a good attitude for a writer to have. Some books you walk around and p
Franzen’s writing is impeccable. Not only does his understanding of complex, familial relationships fascinate me, but his ability to capture these characters—all five of them, I might add—with such depth...I think that is what really drew me in as a reader. I mean, these are people who are so flawed emotionally and so utterly selfish inherently, and yet each of them has this capacity for loving one another even while recognizing their inability to stand each other for more than five minutes at a ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it liked it
An open letter to my former copy of The Corrections:

First I want to tell you that it isn’t you, it’s me. People and books grow apart just like people and people grow apart. I remember years ago when I read you that there were certain things about you that I really liked; but the truth is, I just wasn’t really that into you. Yeah, that little stunt with Oprah was pretty cute, and I recall we had a laugh, but I’m just at that point in my life where I need to make space for new experiences – op
The critics loved The Corrections. Published in 2001, it won the National Book Award for fiction for that year and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize a year later. It also won or was nominated for a number of other prestigious literary prizes.

David Gates wrote in his glowing review in the New York Times that the book had “just enough novel-of-paranoia touches so Oprah won’t assign it and ruin Franzen’s street cred.”

Wrong, David. Oprah not only chose it for her book club but went so far as to pr
May 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Emily
A friend once told me that Jonathan Franzen has been quoted as saying he deliberately rips off influential late-century American authors such as Pynchon, DeLillo and Roth, but tries to make the prose less difficult, more easily consumed.*

Leaving aside for a moment the irony of that statement in light of his outrage over the Oprah thing, that is stupid. Those authors are not great because their writing is accessible when the complexity is removed.

It was when one of the main characters in The Corr
I love this novel as much for what it turned out that it wasn’t as for what it actually was. The opening vignette was a deep dive into the subterranean conflicts of a middle class home in Middle America. We're immediately focused on the agony and resentment of the emasculated American male wrought by decades of marriage to a dutiful wife who dutifully domesticates the family and becomes an expert in polishing the façade. In our initial meeting, the retired Alfred has dug himself such a deep tren ...more
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Imagine owning a bonsai tree and snipping, cutting, making small corrections from the plant’s growth, guiding it and making it become what you want it to be.

Imagine an engineer with a sharpened pencil making schematics and rigidly following mathematical, precise principles, forming a design that fits a specific purpose and allows for only infinitesimal error.

But these ways of making corrections are not ways to deal with humans, this is not how people exist, there are no hard fast rules, no blac
Michael Ferro
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'd never read THE CORRECTIONS before and let me assure you, I am well aware of how cool it is these days to bash Jonathan Franzen, but after meeting him at a reading in Ann Arbor, I decided it was finally time to sit down with his Big Boy and give it a thorough read. In person, Franzen is a kind and funny, if somewhat shy, guy. And for someone who has put up with as much criticism as he's received (some of which is certainly well-deserved), he's remarkably down-to-earth and "normal." All that s ...more
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
On the other hand, there are IMPULSIVELY READABLE works of fiction. The much appreciated "The Corrections" is a prime example of what can occur if all you do is describe members of a family (it is not even all that dysfunctional--which is why the pathos is all too real). The Lamberts have a fallen patriarch, a mother who is on the verge of being taken under by her spouse (in other words, she's The Mother), a sibling who cares too much, another one too little, & a younger sister who may be a seri ...more
Em Lost In Books
"You looked at yourself from one perspective and all you saw was weirdness. Move your head a little bit, though, and everything looked normal."

Isn't what life is like these days? You feel the weirdness and then you start to justify it and make it look okay.

I think every member in this Lambert family excels at this. First they realize how things are wrong about them and then they go on to justify it by blaming others and the situation what brought them to this point. I really love family sag
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
The thing about books is, there are quite a number you don’t have to read.
Donald Barthelme

Despite Herr Franzen's picturesque prose and stellar structuring, I could not get past the gloomy, grating, grinding, megalomaniacal, monomaniacal, hypochondriacal, nymphomaniacal bitching, bemoaning, boohooing, bleating and bloated backbiting and bullshit of this family full of neurotic whiners, stretching from the Midwest to the Northeast for an entire 653 pages.

If The Corrections is the Great American N
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whoever said you can't go home again must have been caring for a sick parent. Grief, frustration, anger, shame, feeling helpless — all that plus a sincere desire to do everything you can to help, but ultimately you know you will fail in your mission to save them. Fond memories of home get pushed aside in the wake of a million tasks: doctor visits, medical forms, cancer treatments, prescriptions, adult diapers, and the inevitable move to a nursing home. Worst of all, you must witness over and ove ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There is a crowded shelf, among my overflowing bookcases, dedicated solely to books I’m getting around to reading. However much I read, this shelf is always crammed. Most of the books are new, given as gifts on Christmas or my birthday. These are big hardcover titles with tight bindings, handsome dust-jackets, and $35 cover prices. I’m excited to read them, but I hew to a loose first-in, first-out policy, meaning I have to wade through older purchases before I can tackle them (which is part of t ...more
Dec 20, 2007 rated it did not like it
I can't think of a single other book where I got to end and wanted to ask someone for my time back. Most books that I've strongly disliked or thought were crap were genre books, typically short and relatively fast reads. At close to 600 pages, there is nothing short or fast about The Corrections, and nothing to savour in its slowness either.

The story - about a depressingly typical and dysfunctional, middle class Middle American family from the 60s to the present - is a thief. It steals your time
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 and 1001
Shelves: 1001-core
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. Sinc
Mar 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm writing this review in response to Kate's review, which tore it up with a lot of intelligent points. I feel the need to respond because I loved this book, and even re-read it about a year ago.

One point Kate makes is that this book is full of rotten characters and some of them don't stand up off the page. (My mother's main complaint, too, was that the characters weren't nice.) I'd agree that there are a couple characters who are flimsy (mainly, SPOILER, the couple Denise has her thing with),
Moira Russell
Dear Mr. Franzen,

Please be so good as to kindly go unfug yourself.


The fabulous Edith Wharton

Oct 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
2011 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

DNF- this book was not good. If there was an option for zero stars, that’s what I’d give it. 👎🏻
Ian "Marvin" Graye
An Opportunity to Make A Few Corrections

I read “The Corrections” pre-Good Reads and originally rated it four stars.

I wanted to re-read (and review) it, before starting “Freedom”.

I originally dropped it a star because I thought there was something unsatisfying about the whole Lithuanian adventure.

Perhaps, when I re-read it, I wouldn’t object to it as much and I could improve my rating.

Having just finished it, I could probably add a half-star, but I’m not ready to give it five.

Second time around,
Apr 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From start to finish on my third time through this book - my first experiencing it through text and not audio – I was struck anew at not only the bleak, hilarious story it tells but at the beauty of the writing, at the way Franzen knows how to turn a phrase.

One thing I kind of noticed on my own but had my eye made more aware of by a New York Times review of the book was how meta-fictive the book is. The Times – or whatever publication it was I found on the internet as I obsessed over this book
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Being a writer can make you an extremely poor - and biased - reader. Over the years, as fears and frustrations keep piling up, you're tempted to dismiss contemporary masters, geniuses writing at the same day and age as you do; why should you endure the pain of realizing you'll never be that great? And yet I've always known that if I gave in to this ungenerous voice, and refrained from reading as avidly as I do, I'd become an even worse writer than the one I fear I am in my darkest moments.

This w
Andrew Smith
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved Franzen's Freedom and really couldn't wait to get into this novel. I listened to this on audiobook (it helped that my favourite reader, George Guidall, recorded this in unabridged form). George does a brilliant job, as he always does. The story is long and complex and funny and sad. It has the right mix of obnoxious characters and those who evoke sympathy. I liked it and I loved bits of it. The last part of the book was brilliant and in the end I was really sad I'd finished it.
Peter Boyle
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jonathan Franzen seems to have a knack for winding people up. When his list of writing rules was published a couple of weeks ago, the Internet was quickly ablaze with indignation and evisceration. How dare this privileged snob share such pompous advice? My own Twitter timeline was full of other writers mocking his self-importance.

But is it arrogance if you can back it up? I'd never read Franzen's fiction, so I decided to start with the book that made his name. And I soon realised why such a fuss
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviews
I didn't like The Corrections. I didn't like or care about any of the characters. Seems like I've been reading about the prototypical dysfunctional American family for decades. This one was humorless and boring. Probably because the characters lacked personality.
I know most people loved it or said they did, I've already heard all the arguments defending it.
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Steve by: Bob's Top 5 Lists
First let me say that this Franzen guy, he can write. That by itself justifies a minimum of 3 stars. He turns a phrase as well as anyone in modern literature, with a style that is both artful and incisive. His brainpower is on display just about every page. In a way, though, that’s part of my frustration with the book. When someone as clever as Franzen is sharing insights, you might hope for some traits to borrow or views to adopt from his characters—something to include in your own eclectic por ...more
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Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction; the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion; and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by FSG. His fourth novel, Freedom, was published in the fall of 2010.

Franzen's other honors include a 1988 Whiting Writers' Award, Granta's Best Of Young Ameri

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“And when the event, the big change in your life, is simply an insight—isn't that a strange thing? That absolutely nothing changes except that you see things differently and you're less fearful and less anxious and generally stronger as a result: isn't it amazing that a completely invisible thing in your head can feel realer than anything you've experienced before? You see things more clearly and you know that you're seeing them more clearly. And it comes to you that this is what it means to love life, this is all anybody who talks seriously about God is ever talking about. Moments like this.” 194 likes
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