Friday, July 14, 2006

Rereading The Corrections

I'm not a rereader by nature, even though I give my students the assignment to reread a book that had a strong influence on them and write about the experience. Most people, it seems, are rereaders, so there must be something to learn from that. Anyway I have almost finished my second reading of The Corrections, and I'm surprised to notice that I'm having exactly the same response as the first time through. I was completely absorbed in the Enid/Alfred, Chip, and Gary stories, but when it came to Denise, the youngest child, I felt very much like both I and Franzen just wanted to get through it. While it's technically brilliant--shows detailed research into the world of professional cooking and a thorough thinking-through of the character's attributes--it just feels like a summary. It feels like Franzen doesn't deeply know this character or care to know her in the ways he does the others. A lot is done in semi-scenes, summaries that are vivid but not quite full scenes. It's perfunctory. I'm not sure I can finish because I need to get through Denise to get to the death of Alfred, and I don't want to see Alfred die again.

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