I got The Corrections out of the library on my birthday, which was last week, and I was savoring sitting down to read it. I had read Jonathan Franzen's more recent book, Freedom, a few months ago and it was mind-blowing: rich, complex, brilliant, dense, post-modern, familiar, funny, and an all -around terrifically satisfying novel. I still think about the characters, which to me is a sign of a great book.
I had heard such wonderful things about this book, the one that put him more on the map, and couldn't wait to start. And it has lived up to it's promise of greatness: it's amazing.
I am currently on page 466 with exactly 100 pages to go. I am already mourning being done with it.
A few afternoons ago, while I was reading, I came across a paragraph that so blew me away, so shook me and touched me and moved me, that I put a separate bookmark in so I could repeatedly go back to it and read it again. I think it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. It touched me as a mom and as a reader and as an appreciator of language. I'm not sure if you will feel it as much as I do since you have not read alllllllllll the context he puts into the book about his characters, but here is a brief synopsis: Alfred- a smart, proud, quiet, hard working, midwestern man in his late 60's- has Parkinson's disease and his wife Enid- anxious, loving, in denial about anything unpleasant, enthusiastic, unrealistic- has dragged him onto a cruise up through the Eastern Canadian coast to see the fall foliage. Alfred, who is fighting bouts of dementia, wanders on the ship to a place he's not supposed to be and falls overboard. Alfred and Enid have three grown children, each with their own issues and drama and context, and while Alfred has not been a mushy, demonstrative father, he loves his children and raised them in a strict, secure, comfortable home and did what he thought was best for them.
And here's the paragraph:
"He was remembering the nights he'd sat upstairs with one or both of the boys or with his girl in the crook of his arm, their damp bath-smelling heads hard against his ribs as he read aloud to them from Black Beauty or The Chronicles of Narnia. How his voice alone, its palpable resonance, had made them drowsy. These were evenings, and there were hundreds of them, maybe thousands, when nothing traumatic enough to leave a scar had befallen the nuclear unit. Evenings of plain vanilla closeness in his black leather chair; sweet evenings of doubt between the nights of bleak certainty. They came to him now, these forgotten counterexamples, because in the end, when you were falling into water, there was no solid thing to reach for but your children."