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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Corrections

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
576 p Picador Publishing 2002

After reading Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections for the first 100 pages I thought this could be the Moby Dick of our generation. After all, here we have a book that seems to define America, where in the place of the titular White Whale, we have the titular Corrections, ways we try to deal with or not deal with our problems. The Corrections is not the Moby Dick of our generation. Our generation will probably get its own Moby Dick. Somewhere in the halfway point of this massive tone, Franzen adds in a little too much misery, a little too much fat. Where the extraneous details and bunny-trails in Moby Dick added depth and color, here they only seem as an advertisement for Franzen's intellect. With that criticism out of the way, Franzen still manages to make his main characters likable and sympathetic, no matter what horrible amoral things they do, or avoidable pain they subject themselves to. He also manages to perform the miracle of believably pushing these characters to an ending that is touching and slightly sanguine. See what I did there? I used the word sanguine to prove to you that I am smart. Get used to that sort of thing if you choose to read this book. Also, get used to slapping your head when you realize that Franzen's commentary on the state of the nation and the economy is surprisingly prescient ten years later. Did I use "prescient" correctly?

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