‘The Corrections,’ by Jonathan Franzen

“The Corrections,” Jonathan Franzen’s 2001 exploration of the modern American family is — wait a minute here! I asked for fried eggs, sunny side up! These eggs are scrambled! Oh for cryin’ out tits, who does a guy have to snugglefuck around here to get his friggin’ eggs made to order? How many goddamn times is this gonna happen? Just last week I asked for fried eggs, sunny side up and a slice of wheat toast, only to get a poached egg and a toasted English muffin! Am I being messed with here or are you people truly that incompetent?

Alright, alright, alright … I’ll eat the damn eggs.

Franzen’s National Book Award-winning tale focuses on the Lambert family, a traditional Midwestern family troubled by — oh what the shit is this?!?!?! This is grapefruit juice! I specifically ordered fresh-squeezed orange juice! I fuckin’ hate grapefruit juice! Honestly, how do you mistake grapefruit juice for orange juice?!?! Orange juice is orange, you ignorant numbskull! This tastes like ball sweat mixed with lemon juice! I seriously think I’m gonna throw up! My stomach can’t take this!

No, no, no … I might as well finish the juice. I mean I already took a huge gulp.

Moving back and forth in time, Franzen examines the Lambert family through several lenses, including that of Albert, the family patriarch, a retired railroad engineer who — you can’t be fucking serious!!!! You put strawberry jam on my toast?!?!?! You’ll burn in hell for this, whore! I asked for orange marmalade on the side! Do you know what “on the side” means?!?! Why can’t you people realize that something described as “orange” is actually fucking orange?!?!?! Does strawberry jam look orange to you? Maybe it does, you dimwitted cretin! I think I just vomited in my mouth!

Forget it, just forget it … Take that toast off my plate and I promise you you’ll never see that arm again.

As Albert’s wife, Enid, struggles with his growing dementia, her eldest son, Gary, a successful yet alcoholic banker — oh no way did you just give me Sanka! It says “Sanka” on the pot you’re holding right now! This is instant coffee, you lumbering simpleton! And it’s decaf no less! I’d rather lick a bum’s armpit than swallow one more drop of this toilet water! Of all the goddamn things you could screw the pooch on! Is “coffee, two sugars” idiot-speak for “Sanka”? I guess it is! I’m genuinely surprised I can even swallow this swill!

Let’s just let it go … I won’t get this God-awful taste out of my mouth now anyway, so I might as well finish the cup.

While Gary spirals deeper into alcoholism and spars with his increasingly controlling spouse, his youngest sibling, Denise, a wildly respected and successful chef in Philadelphia, finds her career derailed when — hold on a second here, did you really just ask if I want dessert? It’s half past nine in the morning you unbelievably wooden-headed washout! Oh yeah, nothing tops off some runny scrambled eggs better than a slice of double chocolate cake! How did you make it this far in life?!?!?! I’m truly curious how you beat the odds and made it to adulthood! Just please bring me the check, which is that piece of paper you deliver to customers at the end of a meal detailing their total charges.

Yes, yes, yes … very good then. And just wrap up that piece of cake. I’ll eat it later.

As the Lambert family gathers to celebrate Christmas morning, their separate yet interconnected troubles are — Susan, dear, do me a favor and calculate what 20 percent of $33 is. I’ve never been good at figuring out how much to tip.


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