I stopped reading this book at one point and sent an email to the friend who had recommended it.
I’m nearly 200 pages into The Corrections, and I think I hate it! The immaturity of the adults makes me want to cut them all. I love a melodrama, and yet, THEY ARE ALL STRESSING ME OUT!
I was shocked to be nearly halfway through the book. Nothing had happened! Except, of course, that I was heavily invested in the screwed-up lives of multiple characters, and I was stressing about their interpersonal conflict and how it would most likely play out over the remainder of the book.
So, point to Franzen, his characters are incredibly sympathetic – if not necessarily likable.
After my friend’s encouraging email, in which she reassured me that I might like the characters just a little bit more by the end, I did some quick research to find out if I’m the only person to respond so violently to the book.
I read the summary/review on goodreads and emailed it to myself with the following comments:
“Richly realistic, darkly entertaining…”
These might be euphemisms for “everyone is miserable and dysfunctional, and you should laugh at them, if you can manage to shut off your empathy.”
(You didn’t realize this would be a live blog of the book, did you? Or that I was capable of quoting myself so extensively?)
I found another review that was reassuring – “normal people” either love or hate the book, and are rarely ambivalent.
Point to me, for being normal, according to an anonymous blogger’s interpretation of Amazon book reviews.
Since I was traveling to New England for a wedding this past weekend, and would have many hours of time to burn, I brought the book along, and was determined to finish it before my return. I felt about that book the way I used to feel about eating spinach or mushrooms as a kid – I hated it, but I assumed it was good for me and hoped it wouldn’t kill me. (Also, I now love both spinach and mushrooms, which leaves room for me to, one day, love this book as well.)
My friend was right to encourage me forward – the characters soften and their conflict eases a bit at the end, and I ended the book with a sigh of relief instead of by throwing it across the room.
HOWEVER, I have a few thoughts:
-Franzen’s writing style was very aggressive – violent, visceral, abrasive.
-The book was…erm…quite smutty. As a reader, you will become familiar with the sexual proclivities of each character.
-I saw the most of myself in Enid, the shrill overbearing naively optimistic mother. This…was not so pleasant. (Of course, none of the characters are cast in a positive light, so I’m guessing any association would be unpleasant for the reader.)
-My grandfather has Parkinson’s, so I may have cared for Alfred, the antagonistic father figure, more than the author intended. His “afflictions” were described in a way that could have been tragicomical if I’d not been so concerned for his well-being.
I have said enough. If you’d like a second opinion, Abby’s review is excellent. (I agree with everything she says, but the negatives simply outweighed the positives for me.)