Franzen famously declared in a 1996 essay in Harper's
that the novel desperately needed rescue then set about
trying to save it by writing The Corrections. In The Corrections,
Franzen takes the war on the modern reader's attention
span to a new, even more insidious level: The sentence.
There isn't a single one in the entire novel that's comprehensible.
very first one in the novel sets the tone: "The madness
of an autumn prairie cold front coming through."
What the heck is that? It's a not a complete sentence
for one. And it's about the weather, for goodness sake.
The most cliched opening sentence of all time is "It
was a dark and stormy night." Shortening the cliche
by hacking off the subject and verb of that sentence doesn't
make it artful. It just makes more obvious that Franzen
is a hack. (By the way, I happen to live in Chicago where
lots of autumn prairie cold fronts come through and let
me tell you: It's no big deal.)
most delicious irony to accompany the publication of The
Corrections: It was chosen as an Oprah book. Need I say