The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
A Novel

78%

12 Critic Reviews

The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

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 Street and Eastern Europe in the age of greed and globalism. Franzen brings an old-time America of freight trains and civic duty, of Cub Scouts and Christmas cookies and sexual inhibitions, into brilliant collision with the modern absurdities of brain science, home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and the anti-gravity New Economy. With The Corrections, Franzen emerges as one of our premier interpreters of American society and the American soul.

Enid Lambert is terribly, terribly anxious. Although she would never admit it to her neighbors or her three grown children, her husband, Alfred, is losing his grip on reality. Maybe it's the medication that Alfred takes for his Parkinson's disease, or maybe it's his negative attitude, but he spends his days brooding in the basement and committing shadowy, unspeakable acts. More and more often, he doesn't seem to understand a word Enid says.

Trouble is also brewing in the lives of Enid's children. Her older son, Gary, a banker in Philadelphia, has turned cruel and materialistic and is trying to force his parents out of their old house and into a tiny apartment. The middle child, Chip, has suddenly and for no good reason quit his exciting job as a professor at D------ College and moved to New York City, where he seems to be pursuing a "transgressive" lifestyle and writing some sort of screenplay. Meanwhile the baby of the family, Denise, has escaped her disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man--or so Gary hints.

Enid, who loves to have fun, can still look forward to a final family Christmas and to the ten-day Nordic Pleasurelines Luxury Fall Color Cruise that she and Alfred are about to embark on. But even these few remaining joys are threatened by her husband's growing confusion and unsteadiness. As Alfred enters his final decline, the Lamberts must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.

 

About Jonathan Franzen

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Jonathan Franzen is the author of four novels (Freedom, The Corrections, Strong Motion, and The Twenty-Seventh City), two collections of essays (Farther Away and How to Be Alone), a personal history (The Discomfort Zone), and a translation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, all published by FSG. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California. Karl Kraus (1874–1936) was an Austrian satirist, playwright, poet, aphorist, and journalist. From 1899 until his death, he published the literary and political review Die Fackel.
 
Published September 15, 2001 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 580 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Corrections
All: 12 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Mar 11 2016

The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece.

Read Full Review of The Corrections: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by David Gates on Sep 09 2001

No one book, of course, can provide everything we want in a novel. But a book as strong as ''The Corrections'' seems ruled only by its own self-generated aesthetic: it creates the illusion of giving a complete account of a world, and while we're under its enchantment it temporarily eclipses whatever else we may have read.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sam Jordison on Oct 15 2010

Yet these are blips, no more important in the greater scheme than the fact that someone you adore occasionally bites her nails. They are merely slippery moments on a path where the walk is always exhilarating and the view nothing less than tremendous.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Sep 27 2002

...most importantly, he knows what's going on in people's heads, even when his characters do not have the vocabulary to describe it. He gives people the benefit of the doubt. And that, I suspect, is why the book is so successful - and it is very good news that it is.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Nov 25 2001

...a novel as tactile in the world of objects and as alive to the pressures of the present moment as any I can think of; a book in which memorable setpieces and under-your-skin characters tumble over one another to compete for attention.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by James Wood on Nov 09 2001

...The Corrections suffers from a desire to put too much in. His novel is a kind of glass-bottomed boat through which one can glimpse most of the various currents of contemporary American fiction...But the book is frequently distinguished and challenging...

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Keith Phipps on Apr 19 2002

This moment typifies the novel's shortcomings, offering stunning passages and richly realized characters by chunks and then throwing in cheap shots and distracting awkwardness. Even so, it would be wrong to perceive The Corrections as anything but a major accomplishment...

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Benjamin Svetkey on Sep 13 2001

”The Corrections” may not be the Great American Novel by either Irving’s or Wolfe’s definition – or anyone else’s, for that matter – but it is a very good one. That’s impressive enough.

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Aug 15 2010

Bristling with energy and erudition and comic observation, "The Corrections" would careen into chilly satire if it didn't love these characters despite their maddening flaws. With such clarity, Franzen manages to both inflame and dampen the despair of modern life.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by Daniel Levisohn on Oct 17 2015

What is surprising is that while Franzen contributes, in his own way, to this tradition, the Lamberts are so alive and complicated that their story never feels satirical.

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by STEVE MUESKE on Mar 11 2016

Years from now, critics will look back and see that this book, his third, is his seminal work, and surely everything he writes, from this point forward, will be compared to this book.

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The Satirist

Good
Reviewed by Dan Geddes on Mar 10 2016

The Corrections is a great accomplishment, mainly because of Franzen’s ability to show signs of compassion in what is often a sarcastic, irony-drenched work.

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