Wednesday, February 04, 2015

'The Corrections' by Jonathan Franzen, adapted by Marcy Kahan

4 February 2015

Jonathan Franzen's 2001 novel, 'The Corrections', is one of the great contemporary American novels and one of the best books I've read in the past twenty years. It's more than ten years since I read 'The Corrections' so I have enjoyed reconnecting with it through the recent BBC Radio 4 dramatisation which I finished listening to this week. Marcy Kahan's adaptation, in fifteen 15-minute episodes, necessarily cherry-picks key scenes from this mammoth novel but felt like rediscovering old friends. I had forgotten many aspects of the story and was surprised to remember how funny it is. 'The Corrections' looks at the relationships between an elderly Mid-Western couple, Alfred and Enid Lambert and their three grown-up children. It is an often-excruciating examination of the strains within a family. As Enid tries desperately to persuade her sons and daughter to come to the family home for one last Christmas together, Jonathan Franzen manages to make the reader simultaneously sympathetic to characters with directly opposing points of view (something also very impressively achieved by Andrea Levy in 'Small Island'). All the main protagonists can be quite annoying but each has some redeeming qualities. 'The Corrections' is incredibly sad, painful and terribly funny, with some great set-piece scenes. You can still listen to most of the episodes at:

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