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The Amsterdam Social and Book Club Monthly Meetup

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The next book is:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

There's a lot of media buzz at the moment about Franzen's latest novel, Freedom, which has just been published. But as hardly anyone at the last Meetup had read his previous novel, which is responsible for most of the hype about the new one, we decided to choose that one instead. If we like it, we'll keep the new one in mind for a future meetup when it's out in paperback. This is what Amazon had to say:

Critically lauded and an Oprah Book Club choice, Jonathan Franzen's third novel The Corrections is already a huge success in the US, and it's none too difficult to see why. Whereas his earlier novels, The Twenty-Seventh City and StrongMotion could be seen as single-issue works (on inner city decay and abortion respectively), the long-awaited The Corrections is far more grandiose in its ambition and its scale.

Framed by matriarch Enid Lambert's attempts to gather her three grown children back home for Christmas, The Corrections examines their lives: Enid's husband Alfred, sinking into dementia, her sons banker Gary and writer Chip (now in Lithuania) and daughter Denise, a chef, busily re-evaluating her sexual identity.

With these characters, Franzen gives himself plenty of room to examine the foibles, fears, hopes, anxieties and neuroses of 21st-century American life and the mad Lithuanian subplot provides some real laughs. But most striking and surprising about The Corrections is its reassuring normality. Despite all its well-signposted dysfunction, this remains at heart a big sprawling family saga, with all the security that implies. The book closes with Enid noting "that current events in general were more muted or insipid nowadays than they'd been in her youth" during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Now, "disasters of this magnitude no longer seemed to befall the United States". It's a line Franzen couldn't have written after 11 September, 2001--and, perhaps because of its now forgotten confidence, The Corrections is a book that readers will take to their hearts

Happy reading!

PS. For anyone interested, Jonathan Franzen will be at the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam on Oct 21st talking about his new novel Freedom.