The Corrections Readalong: Part 3

alan rickman what the fuck

Oh man. The Book of Horrible People continues. Thank you again to Alley for hosting this, because despite how much I’m loathing the book and Franzen, it sure is fun to bitch about.

So, this section starts off with an intro to a character named Robin, and her husband Brian, and how they know Denise. This part was pretty boring, partly I think because we learn about Robin only through her experiences with all the men in her life, including her absolutely psycho older brother, Billy. And then her husband becomes a millionaire, which is awesome, except she has some stupid guilt over it, and while I appreciate the good that she tries to do… she’s also kind of annoying. She didn’t do a damn thing wrong, but she’s all guilty and blah blah blah. She’s not a bad person (yet), but her weird self-righteous stand here was silly.

ANYHOO. So then we meet Denise! I had such high hopes for Denise… and then we learn that she apparently likes to go after married men. And then she talks a great guy into marrying her, and then decides she doesn’t want to be married anymore. So she kinda sorta decides to be gay, so she doesn’t have to feel guilty about leaving her marriage. And then that doesn’t pan out, so then she doesn’t date for a long time… until she meets Brian and Robin, and she – wait for it – SLEEPS WITH BOTH OF THEM.

awkward (2)

Denise is sneaky. Because otherwise, she seems like a cool person. She’s driven, she works hard, she loves food (I love people who love food!), she kind of tries to get along with all of her family (even douchebag Chip)… but she’s a horrible, horrible person. There’s no hiding that. She purposely tries to entice Brian into sleeping with her, and when Robin shows some jealousy, she spews out this little gem after getting off the phone with her:

“I could have fucked your husband!” she said. “And I chose not to! So how about a little friendliness?”


shut your whore mouth


Because OF COURSE Robin should be thankful that you made out with her husband but at the last minute decided not to sleep with him. I walk around all day thinking I should be friendly to all the women who decide not to sleep with my boyfriend (although my honeyman is famous for telling women to fall the fuck back when they try to get too flirty – Brian is a monumental asshole here too). *EYEROLL OF THE CENTURY*

Anyways, so because Brian initially turns her down, she decides to seduce Robin, and they have an affair for a while until she feels betrayed because Robin is still having sex with her husband (ohmygod, you hypocritical bitch), and then she finally worms her way into sleeping with Brian. And then they find out she’s been sleeping with them both, and she feels all hurt because Brian fires her after that. Denise is not as blatantly obnoxious as Chip, but she is JUST as horrible of a person as Chip. UGH.

Then things go back to Chip, and he’s living it up in Lithuania until – surprise, surprise – shit starts to hit the fan there. This part was pretty boring, with a couple “You’re such an asshole, Chip” moments. And then a tank shows up and the power goes out at the airport, so maybe Chip will die after all!



Maybe things are looking up…


I like how I end each section hoping that somebody (all of them) die. I have a feeling I’m probably not going to get that wish, but I could hope.

Let’s list some quotes that I just wrote “I hate you, Franzen” next to, okay?

  • “She was haunted, just as she’d feared, by the afterimage of his dick.”     (Yeah, that’s what we think to ourselves.)
  • “Her surfeit of gifts and opportunities, in comparison to Don Armour’s, manifested itself as a physical botheration – a dissatisfaction that pinching the sensitive parts of herself might address but couldn’t fix.”     (Maybe PINCHING is the problem. Don’t quite know how women work, do ya Franzy?)
  • “She felt positively shoved by Robin into Brian’s arms.”     (*eyeroll*)
  • “She also resented that the college was making her feel guilty about her privileges while granting certain lucky identity groups plenary indulgences from guilt.”    (Yeah, no college makes rich kids feel guilty. They love rich kids.)
  • “Gitanas scratched his scalp and smelled his fingernails,” (Gross, Franzy. Who DOES things like this?)

Anyways, so one more section of The Corrections! Any predictions? I’m thinking that Denise is going to sleep her way through the entire married population of St. Jude, Chip will annoyingly enough make it to Christmas but give everyone dirt for a gift, Gary and Jonah will show up and he might announce his divorce from evil Caroline, and Enid will slowly go crazy taking care of her horrible invalid husband while she tries to feed all of her terrible, selfish children Christmas dinner.






  1. But but but the first married guy Denise was with like, seduced her into seducing him, and then she was kind of ruined for all other relationships, no? I mean, I’m not saying she’s a good person, but there’s at least some kind of basis behind why she sucks?

    I don’t know why I’m defending Denise/Franzen… Please, go on without me! *dramatic stabbing of self*


    1. His way of seducing her was ignoring her… which makes no sense at all. And she definitely made the first real move, even though she knew he was married. And you know, most people learn from their mistakes in past relationships. I feel like it’s only in books that one major event or relationship shapes the rest of a person’s life. No excuse for her!

      But please don’t stab yourself. Can’t let Franzen win!


  2. Bahaha, you’re having the same reaction to the book that I did. It’s one of the few books I’ve read that made me want to track the authro down and hit him in the face.


  3. See, I still don’t hate Denise, but I also (like Rayna said in Kayleigh’s post) think that, sure going after married people not the best idea. But the responsibility for the cheating lies with the married couple, not with Denise. She can’t force them to cheat unless they want to. And I actually got the feeling she really liked Robin. Brian would have just been another whatever, but with Robin there was something there. Consider the damage she did to her amazing job to see her, leaving during rush hour, handing over ordering duties to someone else.

    Gitanis smelling his scalp. Why is Franzen obsessed with scalp smelling things?


    1. I think I got much more of a malicious vibe from Denise in this section than everyone else did. And I agree with you on the cheating thing – the cheaters are definitely more to blame than the person they’re cheating with. But I guess the fact that Denise pursued them both so determinedly, even though she knew that they were married, really pissed me off. And with Brian in Europe, it’s not that she had feelings for him or didn’t know he was married – she knew, and she just wanted to pursue him.


      1. I agree that Denise really didn’t want Brian, but I sort of felt like she pursued him because she felt like she was SUPPOSED to. Which is messed up and does make Denise kind of an idiot. But I didn’t feel like she did it to be malicious, or even because she thought it would make her happy. Of course she knew it would make other people unhappy so she’s still a jerk. She’s just no where near her siblings or even parents.


  4. “She was haunted, just as she’d feared, by the afterimage of his dick.” How did I forget about this line?? The whole sentence is ridiculous, but the part that really gets me is the “just as she feared”… Yes, Franzen, women walk around worrying that seeing a dick will haunt them for the rest of their lives!

    I think the difference between Chip and Denise is that Denise seems like an okay person who just makes really poor life choices, whereas Chip makes poor life choices but is also just a shitty shitty person. I can’t place blame on Denise for what happened with Don (she was 17 and the actual sex scene was pretty iffy on whether she was consenting or not) or Emile (marriages break up for all kinds of reasons, and she obviously was attracted to women or she wouldn’t have slept with two of them afterward). Clearly she’s complicit in the trainwreck of what happened to Brian and Denise, but they’re responsible for the demise of their own marriage, not her.

    IDK, the whole “other woman” trope really bothers me, and I think Franzen was being really lazy with his characterization of Denise overall. Blech, this section was just crappy overall, wasn’t it?


    1. I think Denise seems like a person who purposely makes bad choices, and enjoys doing it, even if every once in a while she thinks to herself “Oh man, I should stop doing this.” Her feeling remorse every now and then doesn’t change the fact that she KEEPS doing it.

      And her thing with Don – 17 year olds are absolutely intelligent and emotionally mature enough to understand that it’s wrong to sleep with a married man. That first sex scene seemed consensual at first, but maybe not the bj at the end there. I can’t blame her too much for Emile, you’re right. And I don’t blame her for breaking Robin and Brian up – they were headed down that path anyways, I think – but it was still a vile thing for her to do.

      It is infuriating that Franzen wrote her like this. She could have been such a cool, interesting character.


  5. I haaaaaaated Denise’s attitude toward Robin at the beginning. That was horrible and gross. But I think she did come to genuinely care for Robin — I think those feelings were real. (They had fucked up timing, what with Robin being married, but they were real.) Or she was just obsessed with her, could be the other option. I agree with other folks in the readalong that Denise knew she was making and felt bad about all of these bad decisions. I think in the aftermath of everything, she was upset with herself more than Brian or Robin.

    Oh man I hope Gary divorces Caroline. He won’t, but I’d like him to.


    1. I think she did kind of grow some feelings towards Robin… although they seemed to lean towards lust and obsession than love. And she didn’t seem to really feel bad about her choices, like she would think “Oh I shouldn’t do things like this anymore” almost in passing, but otherwise just kept doing the same screwed up things (and it’s not as if feeling guilty makes her horrible choices any less horrible). I wanted to shake her and tell her to have some self-control. She seems just a TINY bit sociopathic, actually.

      I would so celebrate a divorce between Gary & Caroline, but that would be too lucky. Franzen won’t give us any satisfaction there, I’m sure.


  6. I am still angry that Gary is going to christmas with one of his sons, and Caroline is staying home with the other two. Like that was mentioned only briefly in this section in one of the emails and it made me angry all over again. I think Caroline might actually take the cake as worst person, because who breaks up their family over Christmas because they don’t like their in-laws? YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LIKE YOUR IN-LAWS!

    But back to this section. I don’t mind Denise, like Rayna said I think she does shitty, shitty things but also seems like a decent person in other ways. Unlike the others who are almost entirely disgusting. I do wish that there was more about Denise sans sexual relationship. Like, why couldn’t we get a scene of her with a sibling, like that meeting she went to with Gary, but from her perspective?

    I am 100% sure Chip won’t die, because why would Franzen kill himself off? He’s definitely going to do something noble or decent and I will vomit and scream, but I won’t be surprised.


    1. Caroline is such an evil, cold-hearted bitch. Seriously, you don’t split up your family for Christmas just because your MIL annoys you. The fact that she’s even willing to spend Christmas away from her husband really shows how little she cares about him.

      Denise’s section was almost ENTIRELY based on sexual liasions, which was annoying. Another worrisome insight into how Franzen’s mind works, I guess.


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