The Corrections Readalong: Part 2

about to spaz


Alright you guys… It’s #monthofFranzy post day! Thanks again to the fabulous Alley for hosting this for us 🙂

I’m going to be super spoiler-y, people not readalonging, so beware. I can’t help it ya’ll… I’m going to be so SO ranty in this post.  Because, are you kidding me? This section consisted of Gary and his family, and then Al and Enid. Let’s start with the Gary parts.

At first, it wasn’t too bad. Gary’s constant reference to serotonin levels and psychology terminology was making me a bit eye-rolly, but whatever. I started to dislike Gary when he was acting like a total dick on the phone with his father, about the offer from Axon. Like I get his frustration, but at the same time, it really is none of your business. I liked his wife, Caroline, for about 2 pages. But MAN, they were just horrible to each other, weren’t they?

I initially liked Caroline because it was cool that she worked part-time without really having to, and that it was for that Children’s Defense something-or-other. But then it’s shown that she’s emotionally manipulative, lazy, and just kind of a bitch. I get that she hates her mother-in-law and that Gary promised her they’d never go to St. Jude for the holidays again, but it’s been almost a decade and he’s asking for ONE exception to make his mother happy before he presumably takes control of everything and sells their house. That’s a reasonable thing to ask of your spouse, and she was such a total child about it. UGH.

Also, this:

“Basically, I think your brother’s got the right idea. Here’s a sweet, smart, funny man who’s honest enough to say what he can and can’t tolerate in the way of get-togethers.”


shut the fuck up

She’s on Chip’s side? Seriously?

And of course Gary was self-pitying, spineless, sexist, and a developing alcoholic. Also, on page 225 the thought of his wife crying gives his “dead mouse” (how the hell is that a nickname for penis?!?) some excitement and he gets lusty. What in the name of fuck… So yeah, he sucks. I don’t hate him as much as I do Chip, but he’s still a giant asshole.


hate hate hate

My feelings re: all of these characters.


So now let’s discuss the train wreck that is Al and Enid. We learn a bit of their history – how Enid sought out a working man so that she could have an easy, happy, well-cared for life. HA. That plan really worked out. Al was an emotionally and verbally abusive dickwad to her throughout their marriage, even when she was pregnant. I see-saw between pity and disgust for Enid. On the one hand, her husband treated her like crap and I don’t think she did anything to deserve it. On the other hand… she let it happen. Instead of fighting back and demanding that he treat her with more respect and affection, she cried and took what he gave her. So basically their marriage was just horrible, and now she’s stuck taking care of him. She still love him, I guess, and it just all sucks.


eye roll

Because heaven forbid Franzen let any of his characters be happy…

And then of course, the part that everyone was talking about on Twitter while I was getting my stupid teeth cleaned at the dentist – the talking poo. TALKING SHIT. That happened.



I really, really want to know how some people can say that Franzen is the next Great American Novelist. I want to punch him. I wish he was on Twitter so I could tag him in tweets about how much he sucks. This is a man who has created extremely unlikable characters, seems hell-bent on making some really strange sexual references and analogies, and wrote a hallucinating scene about talking crap, and people are actually praising him for it? Al could have hallucinated literally about ANYTHING else and I would’ve felt bad for him (as bad as I can feel for a racist). As it were, I was so focused on the WTF-ness of the situation that I didn’t even care – I just wanted to be over with this long, drawn-out, never-ending section.

So, there we have it. I’m sorry, because I always feel like the angry one who hates the readalong books… but DAMN. On the plus side, it’s nice to be able to use so many of the angry GIFs I had saved on the computer, so at least it’s fun bitching about it with ya’ll 🙂 And who knows, maybe Denise will turn out to be a great character… but I’m not counting on it.

WTF to drinking

Hard liquor might improve my enjoyment of the next section. Sounds like a plan.


 So… what do you guys think? Did anybody actually enjoy the talking turd?








  1. I really really want Denise to be a good character! It’s like the thing I’m clinging to, for reals. My thoughts are, her dad was nice to her so she has a shot of being like a proper human being? But, at the same time, this is Franzen writing about a woman so who even knows what a mess he’s going to make of it…

    I don’t think you’re alone in being the hater of this book though! I wouldn’t say that I FULLY hate it, but it’s making me angrier than a book should, and it’s not really anger that’s directed at the characters so much as the author… so that’s not good!


    1. The book is making me irrationally angry at Franzen. There’s just so much bad in this book that I’m pissed that he’s considered this fabulous author. His writing is nowhere near good enough to make up for the shoddy or and crap characters and weirdness. And I’m definitely getting a huge sexist vibe from him now. Ugh.

      But I’m glad it’s making you angry as well 🙂 we agree on a book again!


  2. Look how quickly Franzen got us to turn on Caroline. Cos really, for a second there, she seemed like she would be the normal one and have her shit together and then she ended up being SO TERRIBLE.

    I wonder if people are like “That poo scene was amaaaaaaazing” because they know no one can really call them on it entirely because who the hell can actually make it through that scene and know what’s actually going on? It looks like a good scene to fake enjoying and act like you see something really deep there. (Or if there is something deep there that I clearly missed cos I was focused on WTF, could someone explain it to me?)

    Man, I hope Denise isn’t horrible. Please Franzen, please can we have that?


    1. Right? I’m glad everyone else kind of feels the same way about Caroline. She sucks.

      I refuse to look for deep meaning in talking shit. No way. You’re right though, the people out there claiming to love it are probably the pretentious, hipster types that just want to seem like they “get” it.


  3. Haha, this post made me laugh and smile so much. I’ve already decided I’m not reading this book so don’t mind the spoilers. But seriously, how can a book be so unlikable and weird and bad? That stuff sounds really weird and with characters like that I’d have DNFd in no time. I’m glad you’re sticking with it because of humorous posts like this! 🙂


    1. Oh make no mistake, if I was reading this on my own I probably would’ve DNF-ed by now. If not from boredom and hating the characters, then definitely the talking poo. BUT I am really glad I’m reading it with this group, because it’s fun and because at the end at least I’ll be able to say that I’ve read a Franzen book and offer opinions on it.


  4. I kind of disagree about the Axon thing not being Gary’s business. I think in a normal family where Enid and Alfred make important decisions together, it would absolutely not be his business, but Alfred just makes unilateral decisions that impact Enid negatively, without caring whether she disagrees. So in this case I think Gary was really just trying to protect Enid, because Alfred doesn’t value her opinion but he might value his son’s. Also, the part where he says it’s his business because he’ll be the one taking care of them if they lose all their money sounds kind of callous, but it’s also true. Chip is a broke moron and Denise (I’m assuming) hasn’t gotten huge financial success from being a chef yet.

    I decidedly did not enjoy the talking turd. It put me off eating for several hours. (It also maybe put me off of Franzen’s future books.)


    1. I think Alfred’s decision was selfish and stupid, but at the same time… it’s his patent. He clearly already made up his mind, and it bothers me that Gary and Enid are trying to go behind his back to get their way. That’s crappy.

      And I don’t think Gary was being callous by saying that he’ll be the one to take care of them, but still, it’s Alfred’s decision. He seemed to me to care more about the money than anything else – it made him angry that Alfred was potentionally passing up a lot of money and has never been the ambitious greedy type, and he’s all in a hurry to sell their house before it loses anymore value.

      The talking poo definitely put me off of food, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be reading another Franzen. I actually have an unread copy of Freedom sitting on my shelf that I think I’m going to give away.


  5. I’ve no intention of reading this book, but your readalong posts are very entertaining. Talking poo. Is that what passes for “literary” these days? *mind boggles.*


  6. Sorry my comment is so late! I read your post when it came out, but WordPress won’t let me comment on my phone without jumping through a bajillion hoops so I had to wait until I got back to a proper computer!

    This section really disappointed me. I quite liked the first part (although I don’t think it was good enough to justify the crazy praise Franzen receives) but this part, everything made me so angry! From the weird scenes to the confusing language and then the awfulness of Gary, Caroline, Al, Enid et al. I mean, I think I can see what Franzen is trying to do but he’s not doing it well.

    If he messes up Denise, oh man I’m going to be so angry. She’d better secretly be Buffy the Vampire Slayer because if I read one more line about her body or lack of children (FFS SHE’S 32) I will actually explode.


    1. I don’t comment on my phone either – it’s a hassle.

      I feel like the weird and awful is just going to keep snowballing. This section was a doozy though, oy. I hope we like Denise. I really, really hope so. But I’m expecting to be disappointed by this point…


  7. “I wish he was on Twitter so I could tag him in tweets about how much he sucks.” — Ah HA! The REAL reason Franzen isn’t on Twitter!

    This book would benefit from some serious trimming. The cruise section was brutal – the dinner conversation, the crazy doctor. Blerg, I say to you.

    I am SO LATE on everything this week. I’m going to go ahead and blame the book. But this Friday, this Friday I will comment in a timely manner.


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