by Jonathan Franzen
Franzen paints a vivid, hilarious picture of a dysfunctional family. Square Enid and Alfred live in the Midwest where Alfred suffers from a degenerative disease and Enid is in denial about just about everything. The three kids have long since fled to the East, where none of them are coping well with adult life -- Chip has not gotten back on his feet after losing a faculty position for sleeping with a student, Denise has big relationship problems, and Gary is just kind of a putz: he's petty, he drinks too much, and his children make fun of him. The story focuses on events leading up to the "one last Christmas" together that Enid feels will make everything better.
The hype, controversy, or whatever surrounding The Corrections made me reluctant to read it -- but I did, and it's an enjoyable book. A number of passages reminded me strongly of White Noise, which must have been a strong influence on Franzen. Compared to DeLillo's book, The Corrections is much more emotionally engaging, although the humor tends to be more situational than ironic.
copyright © 2002 John Regehr