[b:The Corrections|3805|The Corrections|Jonathan Franzen|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1355011305s/3805.jpg|941200] was clearly a better work. Decent writing, maybe even deserves the title 'great American novel,' but Franzen seems a bit fixated on these force-of-nature Scandinavian midwesterners who are unbending, inexorable, set in their ways. Some good points: good characterization of lives of youngsters, especially some prep school scenes that seem to jibe with what various prep school kids seem like, and tight-writing that doesn't foray too far off into unnecessary drivel. Still, I'm not personally left feeling "i had to read this before I died." Skillful, yes; will I reread and reread and reread, err, maybe not.
I have a lot of respect for an author who can command a near 100,000 ratings. that implies, given that only 10% of the reading public is on goodreads, a million readers, so Franzen's categorization as "great american novelist" is fair. but just as every reaction has its counter-reaction, maybe the bar is higher for such authors spoken of in such reverent tones.
while "capturing the zeitgeist of 2000-2010 USA", Franzen's plot lines are a little facile. further, it's not clear the real extremes of human existence are plotted. okay, a character makes easy money off a somewhat corrupt contract; another works to preserve song birds, but between these extremes of republicanism and democraticism (meaning the partise), one doesn't necessarily feel swept away by the possibilities of human existence.