How important is family in shaping an individual? Philosophical ethics and brute genetic science tell us that nurture beats nature in a landslide, in terms of molding our brains for good or ill. In his compelling 2001 novel, author Jonathan Franzen shows readers a family in which what nurture hath wrought begs for correction.
“The Corrections” depicts a world that is boldly small and writhing with emotional detail. Outside of the central Lambert family, nothing else seems to really exist. Matriarch Enid Lambert is a frazzled woman in her early 70s saddled with the responsibility of nannying her formerly great, Parkinson’s-afflicted husband Alfred. Their children Chip, Denise, and Gary live in three different meticulously- and subconsciously-constructed hells. The reader is led to hope these three will become the titular “corrections” to the achingly evident mistakes of their parents — but their failures are so varied and utter that, as Enid succinctly puts it: “Something has to change.”