If all you knew of The Corrections
was its Goodreads reviews, you'd think that the Lambert family was singlehandedly responsible for ending the world as we know it. I suspect that's why this, Franzen's greatest work, has a paltry 3.7 star average.
To be fair, the Lambert family is dysfunctional and full of the kind of people you'd hate to have as coworkers or siblings or spouses. But the fact that the characters are tragically broken doesn't make The Corrections
a 'bad' book. For one thing, this is postmodernism. The rules sort of fly the coop. And despite the sheer impossibility of their existence (please tell me there is no version of Enid's Christmas fetishism in the real world), these characters are really quite interesting. Sure, their lives drip more irony and tragedy than a Christmas Eve candelight service, and while absurdities are common (the ski mask episode; the adventure with the talking faecal matter; a certain someone falling off a boat), Franzen manages to keep a tight rein on things. And though The Corrections
assumes that often tiresome sprawling decades-long narrative style, Franzen manages to keep it together. I still find myself eager to learn more about Gary's, Denise's and Chip's lives (especially as young adults). What moulded Chip into an anti-capitalist intellectual? What childhood trauma did Denise suffer that caused her to 'rebel' (as it were) against her parents' conservatism and seek love wherever (and with whomever) she could? What's up with Gary's mixed grill obsession? (Mixed grill might've been my favourite part of the entire book.)The Corrections
is not a perfect book. The ending is more than a bit rushed; at any rate I don't find it terribly believable. Everything wraps a little too neatly—after tearing asunder his characters, Franzen feels oddly compelled to force them back together with the glue of closure. But that's a minor quibble compared to the book's grandeur as a whole.The Corrections
is likely worth your time if you don't hate postmodernism. I wouldn't mind reading it again someday, which is probably the best thing that can be said of a novel.