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If John Irving and Tom Wolfe stopped bickering about how to write the Great American Novel long enough to sit down and tap one out together, they'd probably end up with something a little like Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections -- only not as good.
-Benjamin Svetki, EW.com review
Enid Lambert, a mother and housewife for fifty years, wants to get her entire family together for one last, really nice Christmas together in their childhood home, the Midwest town of St. Judes. Together with her cold, introverted husband Alfred (who's falling deeper into Parkinson's disease), she begins a year-long-campaign to persuade her children to come visit, including Gary, a man whose paranoia and vicious denial of his crumbling mental health is only matched by his wife's passive-aggression, Denise, who approaches her relationship with two parts fatalism and one part well-meaning cluelessness, and Chip, a Casanova Wannabe whose life got turned upside down when he was fired for an affair with a 19-year-old student.
From Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (2001) somehow manages the near impossible task of articulating the trouble of conflicting cultural movements in America without being a huge, pretentious bore. With Black Comedy, loads of people with awful personalities, and a good deal of attention paid to detail, The Corrections is definitely worth a look. Just make sure you're in a good mood when you do.
Contains Examples Of:
- Adult Fear: Career destruction, medical ethics issues, marital rape, the list goes on...
- Big Screwed-Up Family: Yes
- Calling the Old Man Out: Every single sibling has tried this with their parents, to little or no success.
- Closer to Earth: Played straight and deconstructed with both Enid and Denise. Most other women avert this entirely.
- Creator Breakdown: In-universe. Chip tries to write a screenplay to get back at Melissa and the school board for firing him. The result? See Stylistic Suck.
- Dysfunction Junction
- Fan Disservice: See Hot for Student. And that's just the first example.
- Gayngst: Denise suffers some before becoming adjusted to her sexuality.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Brian cheating on Robin is bad, Robin cheating on Brian is good believes Denise.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Caroline believes in this, much to Gary's chagrin.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Denise
- Hot for Student: Chip is pursued by his nineteen-year-old student Melissa, a girl one or two Stalker with a Crush tendencies.
- Humiliation Conga: Chip's life after his disastrous affair with Melissa in the first half of the book is essentially this.
- I Am Not My Father
- Loophole Abuse: Turns out Denise was Above the Influence when it came to married men. Married women, on the other hand...
- Moral Guardian: Enid is distilled Middle America.
- The Nineties
- Only Sane Man: "Sane" is a bit of stretch, but of all the kids, Denise comes off as being the most well adjusted.
- Sanity Slippage: Poor Alfred...
- Selective Obliviousness: To say that all of these characters are living in denial of both themselves and the people around them is a gross, gross understatement.
- Sexless Marriage: Enid and Alfred
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Gary isn't depressed, by the way
- Stylistic Suck: Chip's play
- Title Drop: The last part of the book.
- Wham! Episode: Once at the end of every part, but the end of Albert and Enid's cruise, especially.
- Your Cheating Heart: Robin cheats on Brian.