Monday Night Book Club: The Corrections

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by Abigail Fisher

Flailing in suburban limbo has always been one of my greatest fears, and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen certainly did nothing to dispel my phobia of mediocrity. Just to warn you, this book will force you to reflect on the failings of your own upbringing as well as fear for the injustices you will impose on your own children. That being said, don’t let the fear of self-realization dissuade you from reading this dense and disillusioning novel. It helped me to see myself in a much clearer light.

Detailing the progressively dilapidated lives of the Lambert family, The Corrections contrasts those acutely aware of their failings and those who choose to ignore them. Enid, mother to Chip, Denise and Gary, is one who chooses to ignore not only her own faults, but also the rapid effects of Parkinson’s disease on her husband Alfred. Gary is the eldest and the most finically secure of all of the siblings, but has no control over his own home. His wife undermines him in front of the children daily, and he is abusing alcohol in attempt to fight his feelings of immense depression. Chip, the middle child, lost his tenure over a relationship with a student and is now draining loans from his sister Denise to survive in New York as a unsuccessful screen writer. Denise, the baby and perhaps the most sane of the entire family, has a budding career as a head chef, but is fighting instincts of self-destruction and confusion regarding her sexuality.

The story culminates over Christmas, where each family member is trying to grasp an understanding of what brings them to a feeling of, if not happiness, contentment. The Corrections causes you to dissect your own family dynamics, draw parallels or maybe happy differences between yourself and the Lambert’s bitter disassociation. Well worth picking up, The Corrections has made me deeply consider my circumstance, far more than any other piece of modern literature I have read of late.

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