The Book Report

I started a book last Friday afternoon, and despite the fact that it is the most uncomfortable read I’ve had in a long time, I’ve torn through the book and finished it this morning. I’m talking about The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

This is one of those books that I remember being talked about and topping the best seller lists. When I found a used copy at the library, I grabbed it.

This book puts the maddeningly crazy dys back in dysfunctional. The book is exactly the type of entertainment I hate: it is uncomfortable. Everyone is talking at the same time, no one is listening to each other. One character has dimentia and there are pages of his imagined circumstances and none of it makes sense. And yet, I could not stop reading.

The book centers around a broken family. Mom and Dad live in the Midwest and Dad is succumbing to Parkinson’s and dimentia. Mom just wants the “normal” life, whatever that is. The three kids are all a mess. The book is like a gory accident at which one just can’t help but rubberneck.

When I think about art, I think that the purpose of art is to motivate a reaction. It may be positive, it may be negative, but if art motivates a strong reaction it has done its job. I don’t hate this book. I don’t dislike it because it’s badly written: on the contrary it’s very well written. I don’t dislike it because it’s boring: sadly, the train wreck is fascinating. But this might be the most uncomfortable piece of writing I have ever read, and I have to believe that the author succeeded if that’s what he was aiming for.

I don’t know what this says about whether or not I am recommending this book to you, but let’s just say it was an unforgettable read.


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