It’s true— I spent our uncomfortably beautiful Saturday reading The Corrections in the backyard. Sometimes I like to pretend I live a life disconnected by nearly a decade from popular culture.
I liked the book but I have a hard time shutting down critique mode reading near anything these days. Franzen seems to be a champ at maintaining a narrative voice that shines differentially through the distinct polarizing filters of the Lamberts— it builds a believable sense that, while individually well-developed characters, you can still tell at a glance that they’re related.
My biggest complaint? There were a couple literary tricks I kept encountering with a sense of deja vu. One that definitely caught my eye is what I think of as descriptive scene padding— endless lists. There were lists of what Denise found under the sink, lists of all the ways for Lithuanians to bilk venture capitalists, lists of Chip’s shitty Christmas presents and lists of Caleb’s neglected ones; lists with semicolons so you felt like you were in a new sentence and lists that felt like they just listed as many nouns, items, emotions, vegetables, consumer products, literary journals, St. Judeans or electropolymerization processes as possible.
You get the point. I’m sure it’s a lauded literary technique designed to fill the blurry periphery around your characters with a believable, inhabited world but it just ends up jabbing me right in the journalistic brevity solar plexus.