The Corrections The Corrections discussion


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why the one star?

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message 1: by Melissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:10PM) (new)

Melissa Joyell loved it. just curious what you diidn't like. too heavy handed with the dysfunctional family themes?


Barbara That's exactly it..I didn't connect with or like any of the characters who were all extremely dysfunctional.


Randy I agree - I only got about a third thru it before giving up in disgust. For all the praise it seemed like a bitter, hateful novel. Who need that?


message 4: by Sera (new) - rated it 1 star

Sera I also hated this book, primarily because the characters were all just awful.


Jesse yep, hated this book. i didnt finish it, and i rarely dont finish what i start reading. the only part i liked was the kicking the presents up the stairs. i thought that was funny. everything else.. i just didnt like it. i have no problem with bitter, most of my friends are bitter. my family, also quite disfunctional. i just didnt care at all about any of the characters.


Cathy I thought there was a lot to learn from this book - some of it was really uncomfortable (especially if there were characteristics you recognised. It was acutely observant I thought and the depiction of dementia was so real, it was quite shocking. I really liked the play on corrections but I did whinge about it being grim while I read it.


message 7: by Joyce (new)

Joyce I didn't like the characters at first, either. They all struck me as selfish, awful people. But I stuck with the book and there were tremendous rewards. The story explains what happened that caused these kids to turn out the way they did. It changes your perspective. There's a dinner scene that's an absolute killer. It's a great book, if you give it a chance.


Melissa I read the whole thing. Hated the whole thing. I think it was adequately written, but I guess I'm old fashioned and feel the need to like at least one character in a book. I found little redeeming value in any of them.


message 9: by Sam (new) - added it

Sam Melissa summed it up for me. - To me, literature focusing on the hideous without some emphasis on the transcendant is simply voyeurism. Enough with the detail on bodily functions. Frazen is observant and possibly brilliant. What's worse, I have the feeling that he CRAVES hearing this. But genius is in the transcendant, while Frazen leaves us in the realm of incontinence and petty conflict.


message 10: by C. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C. I hated the characters too, but that's partly why I loved this book. It's realistic, and I truly admire an author who is brave enough to portray characters who could be real people.

I don't believe Franzen only showed the negative side of these people. All of them had some likeable characteristics, and as Joyce mentioned above, Franzen explains how they became the horrible but normal people that they are. Like Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller, he asks that we try to understand before we judge. I don't think that's such a bad thing.


Cathy That's a really good comment - I really agree that that is the strength of the book.


message 12: by Dave (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dave i didn't dislike the book when i finally finished reading it, but it felt like a lot of work to trudge through it. I think it took me six years to finally finish it. I picked it up, got frustrated, gave up, read other stuff, then finally finished it last year. In the end, I did like it and I didn't find the characters TOO annoying.


message 13: by Cookiesue9x (new) - added it

Cookiesue9x I am going to try this book again, but, here is what I told 1 of my "friends" re my 1 star review: I had been very ill when I tried to read it. After I made my comments, I looked at some positive reviews, and think the fact that I had been on a ventilator for nearly a month, and literally was NOT thinking right , caused my problems with it.
I am going to try it again. Here are the only two things I remember from the book: the outdoor chef was always cooking "mixed grill" I couldn't figure out what that meant (of course I knew it; just couldn't remember what it meant) AND bits and pieces about the cruise ship.





message 14: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey Haven't read it yet, but I picked up a second hand copy of it the other day. These comments make me glad that I only paid 90-cents for it.


message 15: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike The characters are awful, that's why I love them, I know them so well they're plucked right from my world....This is one of my favorites, I loved the way it's broken up and the pacing of the story. With the exception of Chez's story line all of it was great. This is the only book that I go back to and re-read the last page, over and over and over, no other book has done that for me.


message 16: by Sasha (new) - rated it 1 star

Sasha I didn't mind that the characters were dysfunctional--who wants to read a book with perfect characters who have no flaws? What I minded was author Franzen's ostentatious writing style. He seemed to be saying, "Look at what a scholarly, intelligent writer I am." I felt his pretentiousness leaked through every page and it left a bad taste in my mouth. The author sacrificed the story to his narcissism.


message 17: by Andy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Andy Rane I wanted someone to root for in this story and no one stepped out of shadow of their own selfishness. I understand that we are all flawed and that flawless characters are boring, but so are overly flawed ones. And, the suggestion that the end makes, in that one person's death makes everyones life better, just rubbed me the wrong way. I won't argue that Franzen can write circles around most anyone, but this book left me a bit dizzy.


Matthew Sasha wrote: "I didn't mind that the characters were dysfunctional--who wants to read a book with perfect characters who have no flaws? What I minded was author Franzen's ostentatious writing style. He seemed to..."

Maybe he is a scholarly, intelligent writer; maybe you're not a scholarly, intelligent reader?


Darwin8u Barbara wrote: "That's exactly it..I didn't connect with or like any of the characters who were all extremely dysfunctional."

Hell, let's just give Crime and Punishment one star because Raskolnikov is crazy wicked, or let's give Blood Meridian one star because the Judge makes you uncomfortable.

Great literature often punches you in the gut. It is dealing with big themes, big ideas. If you want shinny and happy, stick with Top 40 music and People magazine.


message 20: by Sasha (new) - rated it 1 star

Sasha Matthew wrote: "Sasha wrote: "I didn't mind that the characters were dysfunctional--who wants to read a book with perfect characters who have no flaws? What I minded was author Franzen's ostentatious writing style..."

You are entitled to your opinion of the book as I am entitled to mine. There's no reason for insults in a literary discussion.


message 21: by Darwin8u (last edited Jul 23, 2011 03:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Darwin8u Sasha wrote: "You are entitled to your opinion of the book as I am entitled to mine. There's no reason for insults in a literary discussion."

Says the reviewer who called Franzen a what? Narcissist? Also, if you are going to criticize an author for his ostentatious writing style, perhaps you should avoid words like ostentatious and narcissist.


message 22: by Sasha (new) - rated it 1 star

Sasha I'm not going to avoid using the word "ostentatious" if that's the impression I got from the author's writing style. That was my perspective on the book, and if you disagree, fine. Why don't you add to the discussion by saying what you thought about his writing?


message 23: by Darwin8u (last edited Jul 25, 2011 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Darwin8u Sasha wrote: "I'm not going to avoid using the word "ostentatious" if that's the impression I got from the author's writing style..."

Obviously, you are entitled to your opinion, but all Art (to some degree or another) is ostentatious and narcissistic.

As far as my thoughts, well, isn't this a thread dedicated to one star reviewers explaining their one star? I gave it four stars. I thought it was a very good hysterical realism novel. I really don't think my 4 stars deserves as much defense or explanation as giving Franzen's novel one star. I'm even more fascinated by those reviewers who could give it one star, but (let's say) Brown's _DaVinci Code_ 5 stars. THAT, in my humble opinion, is a screwy scale.


message 24: by K.J. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.J. Kron I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the author does an excellent job of "showing" us everything and "telling" us nothing. There are some funny scenes and excellent writing. On the other hand, I'd grow sick of the characters and just wanted to scream at them. One star is crazy. He is an excellent writer.


Matthew Williams I am somewhat disturbed by the comments about this being a poorly written or ill-conceived novel. It seemed to me a very accurate picture of the modern American family. Perhaps the real root of the aforementioned distaste is that people don't like having a mirror held up to themselves. Maybe this was a little too close to home for some. As to the messages accusing Franzen of being a pretentious author... a criticism of a writer for showing that he's "scholarly and intelligent" is something I thought I'd never see on this website. I really agree with what Matthew wrote....


message 26: by Erin (new) - rated it 2 stars

Erin WV I think you're all going out of your way to misinterpret what Sasha said, but I'm with her. Franzen writes like someone who is in love with the sound of his own prose. It's not poorly written, but it's overwritten. He's trying too hard to dazzle us, in a really cynical way. I haven't read Freedom, so it's totally possible that he's aged out of that bad habit, as many authors do.

The problem with this book is not that the characters are unlikeable (they are) but that Franzen writes them with nothing but contempt. Also, the daughter character was unconvincing (has Franzen ever met a woman?) and certain sections went on about eight years too long (the part in the eastern European country, that pharmaceutical pitch).

But that's just my opinion. We are all entitled to our own opinion without being told to go back to our Dan Browns.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I cannot believe that someone would criticize an author for trying to dazzle us with prose. If the author isn't trying, or isn't bringing their A-game, then I'm not interested. The Corrections has some absolutely killer phrases and always eschews obfuscation in favour of clarity and conciseness.


message 28: by Erin (new) - rated it 2 stars

Erin WV I'm not looking for authors who don't "try" or for authors who are more easy on the intellect. I just like authors who can be more quietly brilliant. And I don't like authors whose tone suggests that they don't respect their characters or their readers.

Again, this is a common first-timer phenomenon and I'm still planning on reading Freedom. I hope Franzen has mellowed a bit. If not, it's no big deal; I just won't read him anymore. No harm to Franzen or you.


Nicole Matthew wrote: "I cannot believe that someone would criticize an author for trying to dazzle us with prose. If the author isn't trying, or isn't bringing their A-game, then I'm not interested. The Corrections has ..."

Here here. I think I know what Erin means by trying to hard to dazzle, but I didn't feel that was the case. I didn't feel the writing was too self-conscious. In the end, I think that response is subjective and a matter of taste. I thought the book was strong--both the language and the narrative-- but I did find the pharmeceutical rants tiresome. Overall, though, this book made squirm. It got under my skin in a powerful way.


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 28, 2011 09:08AM) (new)

Also, The Corrections is not Franzen's first novel at all. If you disliked The Corrections, you're going to loathe Freedom. It also "tries too hard" to impress.

Again, I think it's a somewhat fallacious criticism to imply that Franzen doesn't respect his readers. It's completely irrelevant to the text whether or not he does. It's also impossible to determine, so why bother discussing it?

On top of this, whether or not Franzen respects his character is also irrelevant to the quality of the text. It's impossible to determine and it changes nothing about the text. This is veering dangerously into Reader Response style criticism, which is ultimately useless in a modern postmodern world.

The only criticism that appears valid is that the female characters are unconvincing and that certain sections wear out their welcome. In this entire thread, this appears to be the only valid criticism. The rest of it appears to be, "I didn't like anybody so I didn't like the book".

I might add that despite my high rating for this book, I am aware of Franzen's faults as an author and even the faults with this books (the female characters exist simply in service of the male versions of Franzen himself).


message 31: by Erin (new) - rated it 2 stars

Erin WV I don't believe that Franzen's contempt for his readers is irrelevant to the text, nor do I believe that Reader Response criticism is invalid. Especially considering I am not subjecting this text to rigorous literary analysis here, I am just remarking upon what I did or didn't like about it as a casual reader. Nelly is right that it's a matter of taste for me; this book was not to my taste and I've explained why.

I didn't realize Franzen had published other work before The Corrections. In that I concede that I was wrong.

Let's agree to disagree, Matthew, as we clearly approach literature in different ways. Happy reading.


Dennis I enjoyed the book and loved the fact that each one of the characters were extremely flawed. Franzen's narrative really drew me into the story, and by the end, I felt I really knew each character as well as I could know any fictitious character. While each had his/her failings, in the end, Franzen had me caring about what happened to all of them in spite of their faults, and sometimes, because of them.


Teresa Wow! What a fascinating discussion about this book! I have to say, I love Franzen's writing, and would count "Freedom" among my favorite books, but this one was a struggle for me. I really, intensely disliked Enid. I really, intensely disliked Gary. Alfred was no great shakes, either (but then, what would one be like had they spent their entire adult life married to Enid?). Denise and Chip were the ones that carried me through, the ones I felt had a modicum of redeeming qualities, or were interesting enough, to make the book worth finishing. And it paid-off in the end. Ultimately, I really liked this book.


message 34: by RETRODOLL (last edited Aug 03, 2012 09:36PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

RETRODOLL The one star because he went into tangents, which took away from the main story lines. Starting on one idea and by the time you flipped the page or pages, you (and he apparently) completely forgot what the passage was about in the first place. No thanks. I hope "freedom" is better, but if this is his 'style' of writing, probably going to be 'no thanks,' again unfortunately.


Teresa RETRODOLL wrote: "The one star because he went into tangents, which took away from the main story lines. Starting on one idea and by the time you flipped the page or pages, you (and he apparently) completely forgot ..."

Give "Freedom" a try. It's different in many ways (and similar in some). I agree about the tangents in "Corrections" - too much crap about the drug and the manufacturer, etc.


Melissa Just dreary, depressing, gross. Especially hated the little boy forgotten and left to fall asleep in a dinner of fried liver. During the Oprah book club controversy my book club decided to read it, and it turns out Franzen was right--we never hated a book more.


Barbara Gallucci Melissa wrote: "loved it. just curious what you diidn't like. too heavy handed with the dysfunctional family themes?"

hi actually I loved it as well. I am just joining good reads tonight. Just typed the titles in moments ago. So thanks for alerting me about rating m books! I am amazed at how quickly responses are coming in. I am still learning the site.


Merry Lewis Teresa wrote: "Wow! What a fascinating discussion about this book! I have to say, I love Franzen's writing, and would count "Freedom" among my favorite books, but this one was a struggle for me. I really, intense..."

I agree. I loved Freedom and I value Franzen's unflinching view of the human condition. His characters and their struggles evoke,in the end,pity for the sorrows they bring to themselves and to others.


Rebecca And I liked The Corrections much more then Freedom. Who knows why...............but the dark humor in the The Corrections just stuck with me. Maybe you have to have been brought up in the midwest........


Merry Lewis Rebecca wrote: "And I liked The Corrections much more then Freedom. Who knows why...............but the dark humor in the The Corrections just stuck with me. Maybe you have to have been brought up in the midwest..."

No.I was born and raised in the south and we definitely have a taste for the dark side-Flannery O'Conner, et al. I want more from a book than just a happy story-though I like happy stories too-butI'm not afraid to go down a dark road if it's worthwhile and truthful.


Rachel I felt it was very midwestern. It was an amazing picture of my world/generation. I didn't find the characters more flawed than real people, nor more annoying than all the other midwesterners who surround me daily. I don't know of any other book that made me laugh and cry so much at the familiarity of everyone, of the whole world as encapsulated in that excessively long, detailed, beautiful book. I could see all my family members in every character.


Rebecca Rachel wrote: "I felt it was very midwestern. It was an amazing picture of my world/generation. I didn't find the characters more flawed than real people, nor more annoying than all the other midwesterners who su..."

Well said!


message 43: by Ken (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ken Brimhall I tried to read The Corrections five years ago and couldn't finish it. I remember I got interested in the first character, then he didn't show up again for two hundred pages. By the time he did, I wasn't interested in him anymore. I finished Freedom and it moved me. I had to get used to Franzen telling me much more than I wanted to know about each character.


message 44: by Magnus (last edited Nov 19, 2012 07:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Magnus Brogie It is unreasonable and misleading to give this book a one star rating. Such a rating says more about the rater then it says about The Corrections, and thus one star ratings must be understood in terms of characteristics of the raters, not of the book . I would even venture to say that it is unreasonable to give this book a rating in the 1-3 range, and the only somewhat reasonable reasons to deduct a star from a five star rating are that The Corrections is sensitive to some feministic critiques and that you can tire a little of the farcical humor after multiple readings. But personally I would say that the positive values of this book more than weigh up for these potential weaknesses.


Stuart Spitalnic Like his nonfiction, but thought both novels beyond horrible. Do people pretend to like them because of the hype? Finished both hoping at some point I'd care about any of the characters. Was particularly annoyed by the weak use of coincidence in Freedom.


Magnus Brogie Stuart wrote: "Like his nonfiction, but thought both novels beyond horrible. Do people pretend to like them because of the hype? Finished both hoping at some point I'd care about any of the characters. Was parti..."

I have not read Freedom, but what is there not to like about The Corrections? It is rich in beautiful metaphors, in elegant prose, in humor, in convincing and multidimensional characters, and in interesting themes. My reaction is the opposite of yours. Are people pretending not to like this novel for whatever reason?


Juanita I absolutely hated The Corrections or, as I call it, The Horrible The Corrections.

A lot of my criticism is repeated by other readers here: no one to root for, characters were not compelling, just nothing to take away from the experience. I even asked a few friends to read it thinking it was just me. Both hated it.

Heard that HBO was turning it into a TV series. I cannot believe they would spend money on it.


Silverpiper I ended up loving The Corrections. Franzen doesn't sugar coat anything but I felt the book rang true. I really agree with Magnus on this one.


message 49: by Olga (new) - rated it 1 star

Olga Branson Personally, I found the book to be boring. I enjoyed Freedom, and have no objection to reading books with unlikable characters, but those characters have to be or do something interesting. I got about half way through the book before getting tired of waiting for something I cared about to happen. Well written or not, it just isn't for everyone.


message 50: by Fred (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fred Some books may be character-driven snap-shots of dysfunctional families. Not every novel is required to make sweeping statements about societal ills. And that's ok. There's room in my reading list for both.
I enjoyed Corrections. I think Franzen fleshed out flawed yet believable characters and revealed honest portrayals of real and painful relationships. All that said, I believe the story belongs in print and any attempt to 'screen' it would be a terrible mistake.


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