Monday, August 06, 2007

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Happy Birthday mom!

I finally had a chance to read Mr. "I don't need a stickin' Oprah book club sticker" Franzen's novel. I meant to read it back when first came out but the job I had then was 24/7 and reading for pleasure was on the very, very back burner. Once the film rights were sold there was no "need" for me to read it for work.

There was so much buzz about this novel. Some said it was the first great American novel of the 21st century. The reviews were overall outstanding and the book was selling very well esp. for a "literary" fiction book. Oprah picked his book for her book club and Franzen "was conflicted". He felt his book would be misunderstood and maybe men wouldn't read it. He considered himself in the high art literary tradition. Mind you the book was already getting killer reviews. Nobody would have confused it for some silly "chick lit" book just because Oprah picked him for the club. Then he said as an artist he didn't want that "corporate logo" on his book. Interesting, he didn't seem to have an issue with the FSG logo on it. I guess when a publisher has paid you an one million dollar advance for your book you sucked it up. Also, he agreed to have the actors faces on the paperback re-release when a movie hits the theaters. When all this hoopla was going on I thought, damn, Franzen sounds like an elitist ass.

I can't remember which big chick lit writer said if THE CORRECTIONS was written by a woman it would have been dismissed as chick lit. I disagree. Nobody calls Zadie Smith or Jhumpa Lahiri chick lit writers.

Anyway onto the book. I have a ton of scripts to read for work and three books I still need to finish yet I could not stop reading about the Lambert family. At first I was not interested in another book about a dysfunctional American family but I got sucked in. I can't say this is a book I love because these folks put the "d" in dysfunction. That said, I laughed out loud several times. The characters lept off the page. There was one minor character I wanted to do some bodily harm to. The wife of the oldest son was such a passive-aggressive person I couldn't stand her. Chip Lambert irritated me for almost 2/3 of the book. He was so self-absorbed and was so mean to his parents and siblings. I had to remind myself these were fictional people and I needed to get a grip. To me the hero of the story was the mom, Enid. In the beginning she seemed like the typical controlling, nagging mother you want to get away from but there was much more to her.

Yes the book does get bogged down at times but overall the writing blew me away.


Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

...he does sound like an elitist! That's too bad for him, he'll miss out on a lot.

I always love to hear people talk about how much they enjoyed a book. More than half my belongings are books, and I treasure them more than shoes! Okay, I still love shoes, but books rank higher on my luggage-packing priority list :)

How's your upcoming move planning coming along?

Jen said...

Okay, so I had no interest in reading this book because I thought the guy was such an a--, but now you've got me hooked, and I may have to add this to the stack of about 20 books sitting by my bedside table, lol.

And so many of the trade books I have to read for work are *so* interesting, too.

Happy b'day to your mom!

sognatrice said...

You make me want to reconsider this too, thanks :)

Oh, and happy birthday NYC/Caribbean ragazza's mamma!!!!!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

roam 2 rome - I am leaving a few weeks later so I do have more time to get things done.

jen & sognatrice - on behalf of my mom...thanks!!

wordtryst said...

I remember the stir when he rejected the Oprah endorsement - I might not have heard of the book otherwise. It was a clever marketing ploy, imo. I'm sure he got more publicity by refusing than by accepting.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

wordtyrst - it was win-win for him in terms of sales. He didn't turn it down...Oprah disinvited him from the show. She didn't want him to feel uncomfortable. It was still a book club pick.