An interview with Jonathan Franzen

Listen to Laura Miller's conversation with the author of "The Corrections," recorded at Salon's studios in New York.

By Salon Staff

Published September 7, 2001 8:00AM (EDT)

Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" is a novel for the new century -- a comic, tragic story about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes.

After almost 50 years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives.

The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man -- or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.

Stretching from the Midwest at midcentury to the Wall Street and Eastern Europe of today, "The Corrections" brings an old-fashioned world of civic virtue and sexual inhibitions into violent collision with the era of home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare and globalized greed.

"Jonathan Franzen has built a powerful novel out of the swarming consciousness of a marriage, a family, a whole culture -- our culture. And he has done it with a sympathy and expansiveness that bends the edgy modern temper to a generous breadth of vision." -- Don DeLillo

"Funny and deeply sad ... 'The Corrections' is a testament to the range and depth of pleasures great fiction affords." -- David Foster Wallace

Recently, Jonathan Franzen visited Salon's studios in New York and spoke with Books editor Laura Miller about his latest work. Listen to the interview below.

Salon Staff

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