January 18, 2016

Review: The Corrections

The Corrections The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So much gorgeous, insightful, confident prose. So many deeply unpleasant characters.

At some point during my crawl through this long, dispiriting, beautiful book, I wondered if it didn't actually take place on Earth, but rather on some distant planet or alternate dimension in which the world had given in to the dark side, like Camazotz or Coruscant. The bleakness is remarkable.

I enjoyed reading about Denise, and the book jumped into life during her section, but everyone else was disturbingly unsympathetic. The contempt for the characters, from one another, from the author, is palpable on every page. Is it an adolescent revenge fantasy rendered with absolute and skillful realism? Otherwise, why so much withering scorn?

In the climax of the book, a tale of surprising foreign adventure leads Chip to understand the difference between tragedy and farce. It's understanding absurdity, really. I tried to see how that would reflect on the rest of the book, the darkly shadowed misery and miserliness of all the characters' emotions. Was it farce? Is all black comedy? But, alas, I didn't find anything funny, and certainly that's a requisite for successful farce.

Hopefully, in later books Franzen uses his impressive powers for good and not evil.

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