Reading Franzen Part VI & VII


Part VI: One Last Christmas & Part VII: the Corrections


I really don’t know what to say about these final two parts other than nothing that I expected happened. Alfred didn’t die until the last page and the fighting that I expected at Christmas was almost nonexistent. Part VI spent a lot of its time sort of clearing up where everyone was and why Gary’s children didn’t show up, what Denise had been up too, how she had become rather evil to Robin which I really didn’t appreciate and how Chip had nearly been killed in Lithuania.

Eventually it becomes clear to Enid, and everyone else that Alfred is not going to get better, and she decides to place him in a hospital for a while, then in a rest home. After which, Alfred’s life gets perpetually worse and everyone else seems to live happily ever after, especially Enid.


Curiously, though reading this story has made me thoroughly exhausted, I feel like it’s made me a better critic, because my critiques of Franzen and his work are no longer based on abstract ideas about him as a human being, but in what I’ve actually seen of his work. As I said early on in this project, authors are not known for being warm and fuzzy, it comes with the territory. But just because he’s pretentious and obnoxious in real life, does not necessarily mean that somehow he is a bad author. In truth, it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that it was a completely terrible book. The mere fact that the characters, detestable though they mostly were made me feel anything at all (even if it was revulsion) says something of his skills as an author. What this says, remains to be seen, and I still wonder if the emotions I felt while reading it were necessarily the singular emotion the author wanted the reader to feel throughout reading his novel, but I digress.

Overall ‘the Corrections’ was, interesting, bizarre, and entirely not what I expected, whether or not that’s a good thing I can’t say. It’s definitely not one of those books you go back to over and over again, at least not for me, and I don’t think Franzen is an author I’ll be watching any time soon. Ultimately, I think that for all his pomp and circumstance regarding genre fiction there was nothing dealt with in his book that felt any more ‘serious’ than anything any genre author writes about. Unless he’s thinking purely of romance novels or penny dreadfuls then perhaps we can have a serious discussion.

I don’t think I can seriously recommend this book to anyone, personally, it’s not the sort of story I would normally have read and frankly the fact it took nearly 400+ pages to even get slightly more interesting was a problem for me. To say nothing of the occasional bouts of soap box preaching from Gary, and Chip, and Franzen himself. It was tiresome most every time and transparently predictable.

Next month I’ll be reading: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.










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