Sunday, 26 February 2012

Cannonball Read #07: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzén

I started reading this monster of a book over a month ago. I read through it reluctantly, slowly, frequently casting lusty glances at the rest of books I'd bought for Cannonball Read. Easy books. Fun books. Books about my greatest passion, running, that I could probably read in one sitting.

My first impression, a page into ”The Corrections”, was that, yes! This is how you're supposed to write. Adjectives, metaphors, strong characters, Franzéns writing style is impeccable. But as I read on, my motivation to continue waned. The book felt more like a study in linguistics, self-conscious and extreme in its eloquence, and less like a novel. The plot jumped from one character to another, one awkward situation to the next, and I had difficulty keeping up. Where was this going? And did it always need to be so wordy? What had impressed me so much at first was becoming tiresome. Fast.

As secondary characters not only got introduced but got sub plots that spanned several pages, Franzén lost me for paragraphs at a time, and I glazed over these detailed descriptions that had made such a great first impression. It would be unfair to blame my lack of interest solely on the book; I was going through a period when my motivation to read was low. Or maybe it was the book itself that left me drained of inspiration. Yet I kept reading, a couple of pages at a time, resenting the book for being so long and myself for being too stubborn to give it up, until a few hours' reading marathon earlier today finally brought the book to a satisfying and unexpectedly exciting conclusion.

Would I have liked the book more if I'd been more in the mood for reading? Maybe. After all, there were plenty of interesting themes in it: Alfred's downward spiral, Denise's journey towards self-awareness, Gary's desperate attempts to gain control over something. But the book could have benefited from some aggressive editing that would have cut down the number of pages by, say, 200. Unfortunately, what will stay with me after having finished ”The Corrections” will not be the brilliant writing style. It will be how long it was.


  1. Jag måste få till lite läsning. Har sagt det förr. Bara så svårt att hitta något som tilltalar mig.
    Du gav ju mig ett bra tips förut. Jag har aldrig läst om just löpning, men klättring.
    Himmel över Everest kunde jag inte lägga ifrån mig.
    Min mans uncle har skrivit en bok om just Mount Everest också - "A day to die for" - Graham Ratcliffe.
    Något jag verkligen vill läsa då jag är nästan lite besatt av klättring... har velat bestiga Everest nästan hela livet, men antar att jag får nöja mig med att drömma där då jag inte alls klättrar som du ;)

    Och tack själv för dina peppande kommentarer. Så skönt att känna sig förstådd!
    Och löpningen i skogen idag var ju knappast något att skryta med rent snabbhetsmässigt. 22 minuter på en km, men det var verkligen klättring. Jag hade galet ont i bena efter det. Lår, mage, höftböjarna. Mycket värre än vid vanlig landsvägslöpning ;)

    Krya på knät nu! Och förkylning också. Snart vänder det!