Why oh why did I waste nearly all of my (limited) spare time this weekend reading The Corrections (Johnathan Franzen)? I’m glad it was only two bucks at the thrift store, but I threw away more than that in my lifeblood by sticking through all 560 pages. I haven’t been so disappointed in a book since Joan Didion’s (also overhyped) The Year of Magical Thinking–sure, Franzen has some clever turns of phrase and clever twists of plot and clever use of dialogue and an overall sorta smartness in his writing, but the pacing is agonizingly slow (I did lots of skimming) and the characters are thoroughly unlikeable. I may have felt a twinge of sympathy for a couple of them at a point or two, but each of the five main characters and ALL of the minor characters are cruel and corrupt to a variety of degrees. It is amazing to me that Franzen could spend long, itemized paragraphs detailing a character’s deeds and misdeeds, and yet reveal them as so superficial, with little depth of feeling for anything but their own ambitions. The theme of correction that runs throughout the book implies that this dysfunctional family might find their way to peace in the end, but no such luck–just more myopic navel-gazing. In case you didn’t catch my drift, I don’t recommend this book.
June 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm (Books)