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Customer Review

on 13 November 2002
The Corrections is a large-scale examination of American culture focused through the eyes of a "typical" American family named Lambert. Each of the members of the family are dysfunctional and tortured in their own ways, but Franzen gives an equally critical and sympathetic attitude toward each. One of the children of the family, Gary, is a determined businessman, bent on a self-help book form of fulfilment. It seems to me ironic that Opera initially wanted this book as part of her club when her show so commonly preaches his kind of internally motivated and overly analytical desire for bettering the self. The novel revolves between the family's perspectives drawing you to understand with the mysteries of their different personalities. They all exemplify classic stereotypes of their generation captured in the transformative nature of chance. Franzen loads us with their sensations mounting to an enormous accumulation of detail and description of life in America. It addresses international relations, drug addiction, homosexuality, capital underhandedness, Alzheimer's disease, environmentalism and many other loaded issues of relevance. Many novels have given us a broad look at a culture such as this, but where this novel truly excels is the way it cuts through the cynicism which so naturally accompanies a survey of this kind, especially one which the author himself comes out of. This is exemplified in the character of Chip, second son of the family, who is an anxious young man whose authority is undermined in scenes such as a cultural studies class he teaches, by his students' reactions and the cynicism is turned on its head. Chip himself actually becomes a very hopeful character (as do some of the others). This attitude isn't a melodramatic twist as it may have been in some other novels which try to do similar things, but feels entirely earned by each of the characters who struggle for a new form of happiness and peaceful coexistence in culture as turbulent as this.
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