Strong Motion

Written by: Jonathan Franzen

Strong Motion Book Cover
The critically acclaimed second novel from the author of 'The Corrections'. 'Strong Motion' is the brilliant, bold second novel from the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of 'The Corrections' and 'Freedom'. Louis Holland arrives in Boston in a spring of strange happenings - earthquakes strike the city, and the first one kills his grandmother. During a bitter feud The critically acclaimed second novel from the author of 'The Corrections'. 'Strong Motion' is the brilliant, bold second novel from the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of 'The Corrections' and 'Freedom'. Louis Holland arrives in Boston in a spring of strange happenings - earthquakes strike the city, and the first one kills his grandmother. During a bitter feud over the inheritance Louis falls in love with Renee Seitchek, a passionate and brilliant seismologist, whose discoveries about the origin of the earthquakes start to complicate everything. Potent and vivid, 'Strong Motion' is a complex story of change from the forceful imagination of Jonathan Franzen.
feedback image
Total feedbacks: 70
10
27
22
4
7
Looking for Strong Motion in PDF? Check out Scribid.com
Audiobook
Check out Audiobooks.com

Strong Motion Reviews

John Braine
I consider Franzen to be one of my favourite novelists even though before now I've only read The Corrections and Freedom. So I thought I better check out the back catalogue. I might be wrong but Strong Motion seemed to be the book where Franzen developed his voice and really seemed like the Franzen I know and love by the end of this book. But it seemed like a gradual thing, I found the start quite flakey and I even considered abandoning it at one stage. I also found a lot of the characters to be I consider Franzen to be one of my favourite novelists even though before now I've only read The Corrections and Freedom. So I thought I better check out the back catalogue. I might be wrong but Strong Motion seemed to be the book where Franzen developed his voice and really seemed like the Franzen I know and love by the end of this book. But it seemed like a gradual thing, I found the start quite flakey and I even considered abandoning it at one stage. I also found a lot of the characters to be quite annoying, though I think a lot of this was down to the voices that the narrator in the audiobook gave them.

Geourska
I hated the first third or so of this book. Louis was just such a despicable character with no redeeming qualities that I couldn't see a reason to continue to read about him or any of the other characters, who were no more likeable nor understandable. However, having studied seismology, I was drawn in by the earthquake part of the plot. I never thought I'd read a book that actually talked about beach balls (the seismic variety). The book vastly improves when Renee Seitchek comes onto the scene a I hated the first third or so of this book. Louis was just such a despicable character with no redeeming qualities that I couldn't see a reason to continue to read about him or any of the other characters, who were no more likeable nor understandable. However, having studied seismology, I was drawn in by the earthquake part of the plot. I never thought I'd read a book that actually talked about beach balls (the seismic variety). The book vastly improves when Renee Seitchek comes onto the scene and from then on, I really started to be pulled in. It's not the best book I've ever read, but the writing is beautiful, the plot (eventually) compelling and ultimately, I'm glad I suffered through the beginning of it.
Levi
This was a really good book! I don’t think it would be a great introduction to Franzen, but all in all, it wasn’t bad.

I’ve been really tired lately, but thankfully everything really slows down this weekend with school and everything. Maybe I’ll even finish watchmen!! My girlfriend is in Hawaii right now, so it’s kinda hard to talk to her with the time difference and all. My friend Claire also lives in another time zone but we make it work. C’est la vie!!

There’s s part toward the end with the so This was a really good book! I don’t think it would be a great introduction to Franzen, but all in all, it wasn’t bad.

I’ve been really tired lately, but thankfully everything really slows down this weekend with school and everything. Maybe I’ll even finish watchmen!! My girlfriend is in Hawaii right now, so it’s kinda hard to talk to her with the time difference and all. My friend Claire also lives in another time zone but we make it work. C’est la vie!!

There’s s part toward the end with the son and the dad that’s a little dry and long but I suppose it’s significant enough to the plot that it’s necessary.
The Best American Short Stories 1995 :: Making History :: The Acme Novelty Library :: Book One: Work, 1986-2006 :: The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History
Jake
This has a lot of the same themes as Franzen's more famous books, screwed up people in screwed up families who you learn to like more as the story progresses and you understand what makes them tick. The timing of the climactic event at the end was a bit outrageous and unbelievable, I'm glad he fine tuned that crazy stuff out of his bag of tricks in fine later books like Freedom and The Corrections, but I still liked it.
Katharine
I'm usually a huge fan of Franzen and stuck with this book out until 3/4 of the way done. The plot was boring!! I stuck with the book for a while because I know Franzen is all about character development, but it wasn't worth finishing. Don't care what happened at the end.
Kacey
I liked The Corrections, thought Freedom was 'meh,' and could not even struggle through this one. I gave up 250 pages in when I still did not care about a single character beyond hoping that the next earthquake would kill them all.
Shauna
A great second novel. I've been really impressed with everything by Franzen. The only reason it's not 5 stars for me is that I couldn't help comparing it to The Corrections, Freedom and Purity, which all blew me away. He's well worth checking out.
Mikey
I dislike random personification of raccoons, unfortunately, that may have been the most interesting section.
Melodie
Hate it. Whiny and unsympathetic characters. Would give it less than 1 star if I could. Can't believe I finished it.
Gurami
Louis Holland is my spirit animal! one of my favorite characters, that i will probably never forget. enjoyed the shit outta this one!
David Spencer
Strong Motion is a fairly straight forward novel about a young man in his early 20s who loses his job and is romantically linked to an attractive but unintelligent girl his own age, contrasted with an older, wiser, but less attractive woman who intimidates and scares him. It is a pretty compelling read, and does a great job setting up the families and characters surrounding the main characters. Louis is kind of a Franzen archetype everyman—a young, brooding, cynical and easily offended intellect Strong Motion is a fairly straight forward novel about a young man in his early 20s who loses his job and is romantically linked to an attractive but unintelligent girl his own age, contrasted with an older, wiser, but less attractive woman who intimidates and scares him. It is a pretty compelling read, and does a great job setting up the families and characters surrounding the main characters. Louis is kind of a Franzen archetype everyman—a young, brooding, cynical and easily offended intellectual who thinks with his penis and has trouble reconciling his head with his heart. The character makes some questionable choices at times, and he is not designed to be sympathetic. This seems to be a major criticism of many of Franzen’s protagonists—that they seem to be unsympathetic. Renee Seitchek is the Harvard seismologist that studies earthquakes and serendipitously (and quite randomly) gets involved with Louis. He is 23, and she is 30, and their relationship dominates the emotional thrust of the novel. Both of them are confused and unsure about the other, but Renee ultimately ends up being the most sympathetic character in the novel, which is interesting because in the first several chapters that she is described (ostensibly through the eyes of Louis), she is not sympathetic and seems quite harsh and rude. But her harshness become admirable in the long run, when it becomes clear that she is principled and idealistic, while simultaneously being innocent and vulnerable. Franzen seems to use her as a way to shine perspective on the major dangers of being a female feminist activist—you can demonstrate strength and principled ideals in public, but society will attack you (both verbally and physically) to an even greater degree the more you speak out with feminist principles. Renee’s fate in the book is ultimately defined through this struggle, and since most of the book is told through Louis’s 23 year-old bewildered perspective, his understanding of strong women and feminists is limited and reductive. The novel is funny and sharp, and many of its insights about relationships and self-delusion are quite insightful. This all goes without saying that the metaphor of “strong motion” is the central plot device in the novel, where earthquakes and tremors occur in a decidedly inexperienced region of the greater Boston area, and environmentalism plays a major social role in the novel, because humans are accused of causing the earthquakes, with something similar to “fracking” when the term was not even used yet when Strong Motion was published in 1992. The title itself is referred to as the most unstable localized center of an earthquake, where scientific instruments cannot even get proper measurements on the instability and Richter scale measurements at the localized center of a tremor because the machines themselves are rendered unstable. This appears to most directly correlate to the metaphor of romantic and familial relationships—when you are caught right in the middle of a conflict with your significant other or your family member, you are less likely to have a clear reading or accurate perception of the sources and the consequences of the conflict. For instance, Louis is depicted as naïve and cynical to a fault, and his own interpretations of his relationships with his mother, father, sister, and girlfriend are frequently inaccurate and clouded too much by his own emotional dependencies and egotistical shortcomings. There is also a unique passage in the book that seems to argue that women will always have the superior intellectual position when it comes to arguments with men. The narrator says on page 264 that: “Women knew their husbands were ridiculous. Therefore married women, especially ones with children, could be friends with each other. The shame of being wedded to a blunt instrument, a lovable but limited creature, and of bearing his children and enduring his superiority, was eased by intercourse with other women similarly burdened or with women whose most fervent wish was to be so burdened.” The implication is that the better life seems or a situation becomes for a man, the more he credits this happiness to his own design and moral superiority. “At some level he would always still believe that the ease of his life implied a moral superiority; this belief made him ridiculous" (264). The crux of the novel seems to fall on the theme of men are incisive but normally incorrect, and that the delusion most men live with is perceived quickly and consistently by women who have to either battle with calling men out on this delusion and thus risk offending the vulnerabilities of the ridiculous man, or ultimately just put up with the ridiculous man and accept their inadequacies as a forgivable and sympathetic character flaw. Thus, Franzen’s male characters seem to exhibit character flaws in Strong Motion for the effect of illustrating the dilemma that women are faced with when they become intimate with these flaws and have a choice to directly confront these flaws or pleasantly ignore the flaws. All in all, it seems provocative that Franzen appears to conclude that men and women are inherently flawed, but that the greater burden for dealing with these flaws lies on women. On the flip side, a father character in the story tells his son while inebriated: “Let me tell you the hard half of the truth about women: They don’t get any prettier when they get older; they don’t get any saner when they get older; and they get older very quickly” (436). The only dilemma for the man to confront this axiom appears to be deciding whether physical looks or mental stability is more important to him, and the protagonist Louis ultimately overcomes his juvenile reliance on looks and appearance to see women in a different way—that the more perceptive and the more outspoken they are, the more you can humble yourself and learn from them. The book is more serious and straightforward than Franzen’s Freedom, but not quite as funny or satirical. And there are many hints of Franzen developing thematic ideas that he explores more deeply in terms of romantic and family relationships in The Corrections, which is his greatest work. I would rate Strong Motion as a good read and a thoughtful exploration of young 20-something philosophy and gender-sensitive humility.
One Flew
How far into a book is it reasonable before you give up? I managed about 200 pages into Strong Motion before I finally pulled the plug. I could only manage this in 20 page stints, it was just so awfully dull.

Usually I like to give a brief summary of the book before going into a review but almost half way through this one I couldn't possibly offer one. Is there a plot? I don't think so.

The main character is a painfully arrogant loser who isn't in the least bit interesting. There is something abou How far into a book is it reasonable before you give up? I managed about 200 pages into Strong Motion before I finally pulled the plug. I could only manage this in 20 page stints, it was just so awfully dull.

Usually I like to give a brief summary of the book before going into a review but almost half way through this one I couldn't possibly offer one. Is there a plot? I don't think so.

The main character is a painfully arrogant loser who isn't in the least bit interesting. There is something about an earthquake, environmentalism and uh, nothing.

I read a few positive reviews of Strong Motion to try to see if there was anything I was missing. Most of them talk about how Franzen builds an atmosphere, a vision of a cynical crumbling world. The only feeling I could manage was boredom. There was very brief moments where Franzen actually give his characters something to say, which are so short that they can't possibly redeem the unendurable tedium you have to go through to get there.

It reminds me of other writers like Thomas Pynchon who are considered by some to be modern literary geniuses. I prefer plot driven books to these supposed atmospheric directionless novels. Maybe I'm missing something or possibly this was just as dull I assume it is.
Gina
I am a big fan of Franzen and really wanted to like this book. But it felt nothing like The Corrections, Freedom, or Purity. It felt slow and was very much a chore to read. I finished it out of stubbornness, hoping it would get better but never quite feeling satisfied.

All of the characters fell flat. I did not connect with a single one- most of all the book’s main character, Louis. And, as Franzen is certainly not an author who is shy about including sex in his novels, the many sex scenes in thi I am a big fan of Franzen and really wanted to like this book. But it felt nothing like The Corrections, Freedom, or Purity. It felt slow and was very much a chore to read. I finished it out of stubbornness, hoping it would get better but never quite feeling satisfied.

All of the characters fell flat. I did not connect with a single one- most of all the book’s main character, Louis. And, as Franzen is certainly not an author who is shy about including sex in his novels, the many sex scenes in this novel felt especially explicit and misogynistic.

If this is going to be your first Franzen read, STOP. you’d be much happier reading his other work, especially the three novels mentioned above.

I really hope this is an outlier in his collection. I’d be interested in hearing from other fans of Franzen which book of his I might try reading next to get me back to how I felt after finishing TCs, Freedom, or Purity.
Maria Gilbert
Like Franzen's other books Freedom and Purity (the only ones I have read), this book had an environmental theme. The plotline was interesting, which made the book hard to put down, and some passages imparting life wisdom about society and the environment were so well-worded and powerful that I had to stop and jot them down. The idea of having more things than one and one's immediate ancestor could have produced with their own labor being considered "living in the red" is one I have thought about Like Franzen's other books Freedom and Purity (the only ones I have read), this book had an environmental theme. The plotline was interesting, which made the book hard to put down, and some passages imparting life wisdom about society and the environment were so well-worded and powerful that I had to stop and jot them down. The idea of having more things than one and one's immediate ancestor could have produced with their own labor being considered "living in the red" is one I have thought about a lot since I finished the book. Definitely would recommend to anyone with an interest in environmentalism, and especially to anyone who doesn't, because this is the kind of book that could change minds.
Audrey Friedman
Although I have enjoyed every other Franzen novel I had a particularly hard time with this one. I didn't really like the characters of Louis, or his selfish brat sister or his sisters entitled and douchebag boyfriend Peter, and think his mother Melanie is totally stupid and selfish. Renee was an interesting character as well but also ends up disappointing me beyond belief. I made myself finish this book but definitely think its the worst thing I have read lately and it even inspired me to create Although I have enjoyed every other Franzen novel I had a particularly hard time with this one. I didn't really like the characters of Louis, or his selfish brat sister or his sisters entitled and douchebag boyfriend Peter, and think his mother Melanie is totally stupid and selfish. Renee was an interesting character as well but also ends up disappointing me beyond belief. I made myself finish this book but definitely think its the worst thing I have read lately and it even inspired me to create a shelf titled "did not enjoy". Franzen's other works are much better. remember everyone that this is MY review with MY opinions. thanks.
EdmondDantes
Während "Die 27. Stadt", obgleich auch ein gutes Buch, noch etwas ungeschliffen daherkommt, ist in Jonathan Franzens zweitem Roman schon der Stil zu entdecken, der später in "Die Korrekturen" und vor allem "Freiheit" so meisterhaft vollends zur Entfaltung kommt. Bereits hier gelingt es ihm wie nur wenigen Autoren, den Leser in seine Figuren eindringen zu lassen, ihn ihre Probleme, selbst wenn man sich nicht einwandfrei mit einem Charakter identifizieren kann, durch sie selbst erleben zu lassen, Während "Die 27. Stadt", obgleich auch ein gutes Buch, noch etwas ungeschliffen daherkommt, ist in Jonathan Franzens zweitem Roman schon der Stil zu entdecken, der später in "Die Korrekturen" und vor allem "Freiheit" so meisterhaft vollends zur Entfaltung kommt. Bereits hier gelingt es ihm wie nur wenigen Autoren, den Leser in seine Figuren eindringen zu lassen, ihn ihre Probleme, selbst wenn man sich nicht einwandfrei mit einem Charakter identifizieren kann, durch sie selbst erleben zu lassen, und gleichzeitig ein kritisches Sittengemälde unserer Zeit wiederzugeben.
Für alle Fans von Franzens späteren Werken absolut empfehlenswert.
Rob
This is a tough one as I really enjoyed it in parts and flat out abhorred it in others. Some of the characters were great (Renee!) and others needed to be catapulted into outer space (Louis and his entire family except his Dad). Ultimately I think I'll need to pick up another Franzen book at some point and see if the untapped potential of this story could emerge in another.
Jorge
Mucho menos cautivante que otros libros de Franzen, demora unas 200 páginas en que la historia se ponga entretenida. A partir de ese momento cambia el ritmo y vuelve a aparecer el tono irónico que caracteriza al autor. Vale la pena leerlo y llegar al final, pero no es un indispensable. Además, la historia alcanza un nivel demasiado alto de moralismo e inverosimilitud, lo que le resta atractivo.
Zac Bellinger
My first Jonathan Franzen book, and I will definitely be reading more soon. This is not blockbuster fiction. It's a bit boring in a few parts, but well worth it for some inspiring and insightful writing.
Barbara Nutting
I got to page 235 and gave up!! It just didn't hold my interest and I didn't care how it turned out!! Every character and situation was over analyzed ad nauseam!
Nick Milinazzo
There are wonderful moments where a novel is more than words on a page; that aside from simply telling a story, a writer is having a conversation with you. One of my top 10 favorite authors.
Josef Tegarden
This is my new favorite boom. It's extremely addicting. I would highly recommend it.
Oryx
Slow start, strong finish. Could definitely have been shorter and less self-indulgent.

3.7879
Tim
Franzen is just great, believable characters that you hate and love sometimes. The fact this had a semi good thriller esq plot (kind of) gave it more adventure than normal.
Sophie
Loved this book. Except for the lingering metaphor for cars as shoes that kept popping up. That was a little forced.

"When Louis pointed out that he'd reserved the car a week earlier, she became furious with him, the way a person gets with an inanimate object that she keeps dropping and mishandling."

"For the rest of the evening Louis sat in various chairs and Eileen orbited. A plate of food was something towards which she showed no particular sense of responsibility; she left the table and came Loved this book. Except for the lingering metaphor for cars as shoes that kept popping up. That was a little forced.

"When Louis pointed out that he'd reserved the car a week earlier, she became furious with him, the way a person gets with an inanimate object that she keeps dropping and mishandling."

"For the rest of the evening Louis sat in various chairs and Eileen orbited. A plate of food was something towards which she showed no particular sense of responsibility; she left the table and came back; her food was at her mercy."

"It seemed as if the only glue that kept these walls and streets from collapsing, the only force preserving these clean and impenetrable and uninspired surfaces, was deeds and rents."

"'Look for my everywhere,' Stites said."

"The pallid mourners were listening raptly, their heads like so many compass needles pointing at the lectern."

"A person accustoms himself to what he is, after all, and if he's lucky he learns to hold in somewhat lower esteem all other ways of being, so as not to spend life envying them."

"(These crayons were among the first contributors to his sense of the vastness of the past and the strangeness of history, their unfamiliar design and soiled and dried-out wrappers suggesting that this business of coloring donkeys had been going on significantly longer than his life had, longer than anything at real school, where supplies were always new.)"

"She looked up at him beseechingly, leaning forward, seeming to want to pour her breasts out at his feet."

"Louis kept his eyes on hers and hers avoided his."

"It's that there's no trick to giving up bad things. No method. You can't use willpower, because not everybody has that, which means that if you do have some of it, you can't really take credit for it, it's just luck. The only way to truly give something up is to feel how totally impossible it is, and then hope."

"But there's something about the place...a coldness, an ugliness. I mean every week there's some incredibly twisted crime here. And somehow all the people who think Boston's a center of culture and education manage to ignore it. They see this cute, manageable, safe city, you know, that's not as scary as New York. It's like New York, only better. But I look and I see overt racism and a rotten climate and elevated cancer rates and bad drivers and a harbor full of sewage, and I see all these young mothers with their Saabs in Cambridge blissing out on being in Cambridge, and who wouldn't be revolted?"

"People come here and soak up the experience for a few years and then they move away to real places, and all their lives they talk about this romantic time they had in a city they were too young to notice wasn't much, and the whole country buys this image of Boston as a fun town, and what's sickening is that Boston itself buys it more than anybody."

"One forty-year-old twenty-two-year-old in green pants detached himself from the group."

"There was emphatic and tireless tooting from freighters and beacons in the Atlantic night. Birdies and blaring mystery tones the color of back pain."

"On Pleasant Avenue a ten-speed chained to a parking sign had been wrestled to the ground without relinquishing its hold on the signpost."

"I don't even have time ."

"East wall stared at west wall and north at south, unblinking in the light."

"The were awakened by the buzzing of afternoon insects. Summer days that you wake into the middle of are angry with you, branches and dusty leaves tossing in a hot southern wind, air-conditioners working hard."

"Bad memories of the system rooms would fade. tress would sway outside her window."

"In hindsight it would seem as if all she ever did in life was lay foundations for future towers of shame and self-hatred."

"This hunt for neutral tops and neutral shoes and neutral outerwear and neutral chairs was time consuming and made her all the more painfully aware of herself."

"The system can be irritable when overburdened. It may spend eternities on simple tasks. It may send upsetting messages to your console. It may sham dead."

"He ate an apple core and some marshmallows, a novelty. He ate a moth."

"Duske might fall at mid-day when a million of wilde Pidgeons filled the sky, and in the spawning Season the waters of fresh Streames congealed into Silver, with Smelts and Sturgions and Basses and Alewives swimming up-stream in suche Multitudes, that it seemed a man might step across them like a Bridge."

"Like her mother, no matter how tired she was, she had boundless energy for vacillation."
Paul
Most of this book is fantastic. The detail of Franzen's descriptions is just incredible. And it's not that he's verbose, just specific. His sentences are a complete joy to read, the book flows like a wonderful, life-giving river, etc. etc. etc.

OK. What this book suffers most from, I think, is a bad ending. It's as sentimental as a Wes Anderson conclusion, complete with weddings and baby talk and everything just pretty much all working out. This is all proceeded by an overtly overt, um, "nod" to Most of this book is fantastic. The detail of Franzen's descriptions is just incredible. And it's not that he's verbose, just specific. His sentences are a complete joy to read, the book flows like a wonderful, life-giving river, etc. etc. etc.

OK. What this book suffers most from, I think, is a bad ending. It's as sentimental as a Wes Anderson conclusion, complete with weddings and baby talk and everything just pretty much all working out. This is all proceeded by an overtly overt, um, "nod" to DeLillo's Airborne Toxic Event, which, OK, fine, but Jesus is it overt.

Franzen also seems to lose his way at times, branching into unnecessary tangents, some of which are blatantly and inappropriately moralizing (Renée's otherwise insignificant visit with the leader of a conservative church), others of which are just kind of cringe-inducing (Renée and Louis's discussion of punk music. WHICH. Which contains an egregious misquoting of Television, a misquoting I just couldn't manage to forget for the remainder of the novel, and which I will continue to think of first whenever I think of this book.*) That said, there's a few pages told from the perspective of a racoon, which, OK, but it works, as well as the average American male's day, from 5–6:30PM, rendered as program code, which not only works, but works really, really, really well, and is hilarious.

A general note about the moralizing, and then a return to the sentimentality of the ending: The themes here are a bit heavy-handed. Money is bad, corporations are evil, and all we really need is love. There's even, spoiler alert, but there's even the symbolic burning, during that sentimental conclusion, of a six-hundred thousand dollar check, and the suggestion that so and so and so and so "just forget about it." Mmm hmm.

That recurring earthquakes function as a well-timed Greek chorus is juuuust this side of believable, maybe, which, this fact plus ALL of the above criticism is just to say that Franzen is at his strongest when he's talking about normal people going about their normal lives, failing pretty miserably at it, and then failing again when they attempt to console themselves in their relationships, which they've also managed to completely fuck up along the way. I don't need corporate conspiracies or theories about natural disasters and acts of God and this and that to keep me interested. Just give me some believable characters with the potential for great dialogue and specific, intricate, exacting gestures, and set them in motion against a backdrop of brilliantly realized setting. A lot, perhaps even most, of this novel is just that, and it really, really shines.

Quick, semi-incidental sidenote: A reviewer claims in a blurb in my copy that "Franzen's dark vision of an ailing society has the same power as Don DeLillo's, but less of the numbing pessimism." At which statement I take some serious umbrage. DeLillo as a numbing pessimist? Please. Maybe a little nihilistic stylistically, but between the two authors in question, Franzen definitely comes off as the more pessimistic one, which isn't even the point.

Anyway, yes, the dialogue at times resembles DeLillo's. Very much so. But it's done really well, and Franzen clearly has a style all his own, especially when it comes to setting and description. Even here, OK, sure, he's not completely independent of DeLillo, the listing, the fragments, but who cares. It works. It works really, really well. The dude can write. Is a flagrant understatement. I think the conspiracies and the corporate blah blah are best left to DeLillo, though, and when Franzen does leave these things behind and focuses instead on characters and relationships, we get The Corrections. (NB, though: Even at his most DeLilloesque, Franzen never really comes off as an imitation or an imitator (Except, of course, for the Airborne Toxic Event nod, but whatever).)

At the end of the day, absolutely worth reading. Flawed, but great.

* There's also, incidentally, this really, really puzzling discrepancy in the final pages: "___ and ___ were married four days after Christmas," Franzen claims (names withheld to minimize the spoiler). Then, about 20 lines later, Christmas morning is discussed, and "three days later" the wedding occurs. What? I've read it about ten times, and can't figure out what happened to the missing fourth day. Insane.
Anton Segers
Van Jonathan Franzen verwacht je na het lezen van Vrijheid en Zuiverheid heel veel.
Logisch dat je teleurgesteld wordt bij het lezen van ouder werk, waar hij nog lang niet op zijn best is.
Op elk blad is er wel iets boeiends te lezen, maar het verhaal bouwt tergend langzaam op, je leert de personages maar niet kennen, het boek betrekt je na 120 pagina's nog niet...
Jodie
the most underrated books are the ones that make me cry the hardest.

Jonathan Franzen is an author ever keen on speaking the daily vernacular. what i really love about Franzen is his gift of showing how normal American life is really like, how fucked up relationships are, and amidst this how he is capable of making some relevant social commentaries to show how twisted and pigs the people who participate in the game can get. he is smart with that kind of unpretentiousness and humor.

so there's th the most underrated books are the ones that make me cry the hardest.

Jonathan Franzen is an author ever keen on speaking the daily vernacular. what i really love about Franzen is his gift of showing how normal American life is really like, how fucked up relationships are, and amidst this how he is capable of making some relevant social commentaries to show how twisted and pigs the people who participate in the game can get. he is smart with that kind of unpretentiousness and humor.

so there's this guy, who is once a regular self-support college student, a totally non self-absorbed dude who is uncool, who is mature beyond his age which makes him cool, who's trying to lead a decent and independent life by doing a minial job at a radio station, and who's by some stroke of bad luck, is now ironically jobless, (because he isn't 'Christian enough?')

you can see the strong yet sensitive lovable male in Franzen right through this protagonist, this certain Louis Holland: a person who has the perfect blend of good and evil. who talks smart, who disses his own dysfunctional family and someone whom you can really talk to without feeling ashamed no matter what you say or feel. a guy who talks a lot of sense without being conscious of it and who has a lot of realness and smart stuff up his sleeve but would rather keep quiet about everything he knows. a guy who knows how to fall in love and knows how to fuck everything up.

so what happened was, this non-romantic guy fell in love with a girl named Renee Seitchek, the lengthily educated Harvard seismologist who in a lot of ways is like Louis Holland himself, amidst their ninja mission of finding the cause of a series of earthquakes that's rocking local Boston. and the rest of the story is a combination of a sad and honest love story and family story with heartwrenchingly real characters.

this novel tapped a touchy nerve in me because of everything that has transpired between the impassioned Louis and Renee. it was such a revelation to me how Jonathan Franzen was capable of writing an affecting and lyrical prose like this one. to me, Franzen is a thinking author. he wanted you to weep because of the emotions involved in his characters and he wanted you to be informed of his serious advocasies that are masqueraded in his plot.

the seismicity of this novel really tipped the scale at a magnitude deep in emotions and honesty. that alone gives me a reason to read Freedom in the future and admire this author's body of work all the more.
David
I loved The Corrections and Freedom and decided to peruse the back-catalog. I was expecting this to be somewhat uneven by comparison, full of Franzen finding his voice, missing the occasional note, and so on. But I was pleasantly surprised (though I still haven't gotten to 27th City...)

The book isn't perfect. If I could, I'd give it a 4.5. But I enjoyed it too much to demote it to a 4.

There's something about the way Franzen plays with fate and choice that I think may be at the center of what's I loved The Corrections and Freedom and decided to peruse the back-catalog. I was expecting this to be somewhat uneven by comparison, full of Franzen finding his voice, missing the occasional note, and so on. But I was pleasantly surprised (though I still haven't gotten to 27th City...)

The book isn't perfect. If I could, I'd give it a 4.5. But I enjoyed it too much to demote it to a 4.

There's something about the way Franzen plays with fate and choice that I think may be at the center of what's so haunting about his emotional palate. He makes the creases of relationships seem like tracks from which characters can't escape until they crash into eachother. But he also has an existential approach to how characters feel about each other, particularly in intimate situations. They keep vacillating from one extreme to another and don't really know what their true selves feel because they don't have a single true opinion to unify their confused and contradictory emotions. Louis loves Renee, then he's disgusted by her, then he find the whole arrangement absurd. He's driven toward, away, and so on beyond his control. Yet somehow these two work perfectly well together. This theme is made most explicit in Freedom, but is alive and central in all his books.

The parts lacking a little something tend to follow a theme from his other books -- in general, the female characters aren't all fully developed. Lauren is somewhat flat, begging comparison to the son's love interest in Freedom. She has an opaque personality, puppy-like subservience, and manages to make Louis love her for reasons the reader never quite gets. That's sort of the point. But you wonder whether that reflects more about the character, the author's understanding of her, or his disposition toward love in the first place. You also understand that Melanie is materialistic, and you meet her parents, but you don't really ever get her personal back-story. And you never find out about her relationship with Bob before things started falling apart. Her dad is investigated through Bob. So you meet them mid-fall but miss the context. This is particularly interesting here because Renee is such a focal character and her identity is all bound up in woman-ness, which Franzen treats quite well (as far as I can tell...).

Long story short, you should read this book.
Yulia
The writing in Strong Motion isn't as clean as in his later two novels, especially in the first third, where I felt like this was a book by Jonathan Franzen's less talented sibling, but thankfully the overwritten passages subsided and I was able to appreciate the rest of the novel.

It's about a 23-year-old Chicagoan, Louis Holland, who moves to Somerville, MA, to work in radio and finds himself in the midst of a series of rare earthquakes in the area, the first of which affects his grandmother a The writing in Strong Motion isn't as clean as in his later two novels, especially in the first third, where I felt like this was a book by Jonathan Franzen's less talented sibling, but thankfully the overwritten passages subsided and I was able to appreciate the rest of the novel.

It's about a 23-year-old Chicagoan, Louis Holland, who moves to Somerville, MA, to work in radio and finds himself in the midst of a series of rare earthquakes in the area, the first of which affects his grandmother and exacerbates a long-standing family dispute over money. Louis struggles to get along with everyone in the book and after a while you start to wonder if the other person is always in the wrong. There's his melodramatic mother who has always given in to his sister's requests for money but never thought to ask Louis what he needed; his pampered sister who's finishing an MBA at Harvard and going into banking; his sister's stand-offish boyfriend who's the son of a wealthy leader in a local energy company; a 29-year-old Harvard seismologist studying the earthquakes and quickly caught up in Louis's family troubles; a lonely raccoon who's estranged from his own family; a minister who's set up a church in Boston to rid the state of its abortion clinics. In their different situations, all the characters confront why others aren't nicer to them and what exactly it is others want from them.

I personally enjoyed it and really identified with certain struggles conveyed, but I'd recommend it only to true Franzen fans, as it does have its weaknesses. For example, the characters tend to go into long speeches/rants to each other that bear no resemblance to true conversational speech. Many of these ideas would be more plausible if left to internal reflection by the characters, but here come off as tangled monologues. And it reveals that the characters don't truly have different voices, which isn't something an author should highlight. It's also oddly dated in presenting a Republican party that's at odds with fundamentalism, but it serves as a time capsule in this manner. [Franzen seems to have learned that satirizing liberals makes for better book sales (and reviews) than satirizing conservatives, as he does here.]

Overall, 3.5 stars.
Corey
You know, I'm going to go against popular opinion and say that this was one of Franzen's best novels, if not his single best novel. Having read all his work more than once, I would have to say that this book was certainly a better, if less modern, version of The Corrections. The interwoven social commentary is done skilfully and tactfully, and, in several places, this becomes Franzen's funniest work, despite the overwhelming darkness of the piece at the end of the day.

The plot revolves around Lo You know, I'm going to go against popular opinion and say that this was one of Franzen's best novels, if not his single best novel. Having read all his work more than once, I would have to say that this book was certainly a better, if less modern, version of The Corrections. The interwoven social commentary is done skilfully and tactfully, and, in several places, this becomes Franzen's funniest work, despite the overwhelming darkness of the piece at the end of the day.

The plot revolves around Louis Holland, a young 20-something who loses his job, his girlfriend, and, at several points throughout the book, his sense of purpose. He is fired from his job, forced to leave his place due to his lack of finances, and moves in with his new girlfriend, seismologist Renee Seitcheck. Renee quickly becomes one of the main characters in the book, and, during their rocky affair, Louis and Renee stumble upon the fact that his soon-to-be brother-in-law's father's chemical company is responsible for a recent round of earthquakes in the Boston area in which the novel takes place.

One has to note that this is, by far, Franzen's kindest novel out of the four that he has released. It is the only novel in which the characters are not so overly self-absorbed and neither are punished so greatly by the books conclusion. After reading other Franzen novels, where the characters tend to wind up dead, alone, or insane, one might classify this book as benevolent, as Franzen even spares a violent right-wing cult which takes up residence in an old tenement which is supposed to be unliveable due to it's withering foundation. When the structure finally collapses, Franzen amazingly spares all of the members, not killing off a single one.
Make no mistake about it, though, this is a dark book. You will love and hate characters at multiple points throughout the story, and it is a book meant to show the darker side of humanity. It shows the incessant selfishness in humanity, as well as our growing obsession with all things material as a culture.
Angela Elizabeth
Now, in rating this book, I must admit I have to refer to a conversation had with a friend earlier in the day... This one is not really worth as little as 4 stars, but neither is it really worth 5 stars. Strong Motion is a difficult book from a sometimes difficult author whom I just happen to love. It grapples with some of the great issues plaguing the United States in the nineties and on into the noughties (I hate that word!) - environment, evangelical Christianity, abortion, feminism and corpo Now, in rating this book, I must admit I have to refer to a conversation had with a friend earlier in the day... This one is not really worth as little as 4 stars, but neither is it really worth 5 stars. Strong Motion is a difficult book from a sometimes difficult author whom I just happen to love. It grapples with some of the great issues plaguing the United States in the nineties and on into the noughties (I hate that word!) - environment, evangelical Christianity, abortion, feminism and corporate greed. In other words, it's so very worthy of praise it is almost difficult to read - like broccoli it's good for you and satisfying but somehow infinitely unlikeable. Characters are by turn likeable, loveable and hateable! I've said before that Franzen's greatest talent is writing characters readers should be able to hate in ways that make them likeable and almost loveable - you can't help but root for them, despite their obvious flaws. In this earlier novel, it is clear that this is a task and something that Franzen had to work very hard at to achieve. But at the same time I feel tempted to call it a masterpiece. My only method of comparison with the genius of novels like 'The Corrections' and 'Freedom' is the number of brilliant prose moments. Those literary sparks of genius so well-known to lovers of Franzen just aren't so frequent in 'Strong Motion'. And yet they are there. There are puns on the words 'UNIX' and 'eunuchs'. The sea is a 'sick person' trying to draw breath as the waves roll into the beach. Spring is a 'foreign power...sly and zealous...in its infiltration of the city.'Walking is 'broken falls, the body leaning, the legs advancing to catch it.' It is just so hard to characterise this novel - I want to throw it away and pick it up to read it again all at the same time! So, in short, please do read it. Whatever else it may be, it is definitely worth the effort!
John
Franzen is amazing. This is not “The Corrections” or “Freedom,” but this book is still very good. The author’s ability to weave together deep, deep characters in challenging times is like no other I know. Sometimes it almost feels like reading several novels at the same time....but all of them having the same characters.

Franzen writes relationships like horror stories. There reached a moment when I screamed at Louis like I would scream at a character in a scary movie about to go out to the dark b Franzen is amazing. This is not “The Corrections” or “Freedom,” but this book is still very good. The author’s ability to weave together deep, deep characters in challenging times is like no other I know. Sometimes it almost feels like reading several novels at the same time....but all of them having the same characters.

Franzen writes relationships like horror stories. There reached a moment when I screamed at Louis like I would scream at a character in a scary movie about to go out to the dark barn at night all alone. It was obvious to the outsider Louis was making a huge mistake. But it was also completely understandable why he did. In fact, I could see myself doing the same thing. That is the brilliance of Franzen. His characters are not very likeable, but very loveable.

Overall Louis was constantly surprising me. Was that because I had pre-decided what he should be? Or is it something Franzen intentionally did, widening him as a character throughout the story?

I was blown away that this book was written in 1992: A centerpiece was fracking! Fracking, a very 2010’s thing, and Franzen was prophetically all over it in 1992. And the music discussions! Despite being 20 years old, they seem so relevant.

Part 3 was messy. (Actually, all of it was a bit of a mess, but a brilliant mess. But part 3 was the messiest.) The changes in voice/perspective didn’t work well. And, the telling of the backstory was confusing and awkward.

There is a quote from the mysterious philanthropist late in the book: “For every person who has a need, there’s a person, somewhere, who wants to take care of that need.” p 484 If only there were true! It was an odd thing to read. I am not sure why Franzen included that whole scene. It seemed misplaced.

Franzen has become one of my favorite modern writers. Easy to recommend to anyone who has enjoyed reading him before.

We are all raccoons in a world of rats.
Jennifer Glass
Probably the only novel out there about induced seisimicity! I enjoyed this book, though it did drag on too long, but I’m not sure it would be very readable for non-geologists. I wonder if Franzen has a previous career in geophysics? The problem with the novel was how unlikeable just about every character was. Readers never really get to know the main character, Louis, a moody, depressed college grad looking for work in Boston. He is jealous of his sister, Eileen and the money she receives from Probably the only novel out there about induced seisimicity! I enjoyed this book, though it did drag on too long, but I’m not sure it would be very readable for non-geologists. I wonder if Franzen has a previous career in geophysics? The problem with the novel was how unlikeable just about every character was. Readers never really get to know the main character, Louis, a moody, depressed college grad looking for work in Boston. He is jealous of his sister, Eileen and the money she receives from their mother, Melanie, a nasty character who doesn’t seem to give a damn about her family or anything other than her inheritance. The heroine of the story is Renee Scheitek, a graduate student in geophysics at Harvard. She and Louis meet after a series of small earthquakes hit the Boston area, and they start dating, although they seem to have very little in common and their romance hinges around what is hinted to be domestic abuse in the bedroom (?? very odd twist ??). Renee begins research the cause of the earthquakes and discovers that a chemical company is responsible. They drilled a deep well and pump toxic waste underground, lubricating shallow faults and thus inducing seismicity. Eileen’s boyfriend Peter is the chemical company president’s son, and distrusts his father’s ethical judgment. There are other minor (and equally unlikeable) characters such as Renee’s fellow students at Harvard, including a Chinese student (Howard Chun) and Louis’ ex-girlfriend Lauren. An underlying theme in the book is an anti-abortion movement in Boston which Renee gets wrapped up in. Despite the book’s loose ends and unlikeable characters, I still was carried along by Franzen’s beautiful descriptions of landscapes and geological phenomena. Definitely read The Corrections first, and if you love Frazen’s writing enough (and preferably have a geoscience background) read this one.
Adam
I read this after reading The Corrections at least three times and fully assumed at first that it was Franzen's latest (or I guess hoped that he had published something recently) and ended up being somewhat disappointed until I checked the copyright date and found that it preceded The Corrections (yes, I'll continually reference this book as it is definitely one of my top ten (and probably top five although I don't know if I'm ready for that level of commitment without some serious pondering) an I read this after reading The Corrections at least three times and fully assumed at first that it was Franzen's latest (or I guess hoped that he had published something recently) and ended up being somewhat disappointed until I checked the copyright date and found that it preceded The Corrections (yes, I'll continually reference this book as it is definitely one of my top ten (and probably top five although I don't know if I'm ready for that level of commitment without some serious pondering) and I own 3 copies of it (I cannot walk away from this book when it is on the $1 rack at my local library)) by 9 years. The book shows definite promise: Franzen's eye for the ugliness and alienating potential of modern society, the ability to capture flawed characters and make them lovable, the wonderful treatment of human relationships as constant tug of war events are all evident. Where it falls short is in refinement, the exact refinement that can develop through 9 years of living and writing. I would suggest reading this either before or after The Corrections as an interesting view of the evolution of an author from imaginative writer to master crafstman.

I will mention that the book is set in Boston with two of the main characters living in Somerville. I'm assuming that this will be more interesting for people that don't refer to Allston/Brighton as Boston and for people that know more about Somerville than Anna's Taquiera and Sligo's. Unfortunately, I am not that person although I did catch a subtle reference to former Red Sox SS Jody Reed who, despite having a name that made him sound like an attractive girl from the 1950's, was a bit of a doubles machine in his hey day.

J
Strong Motion is a thoroughly flawed book, but enjoyable nonetheless. It tries so hard to be something different, and occasionally succeeds. Like other Franzen novels - and for the moment, I have read them all - it bounces crazily from idea to idea, pivots on a dime (which is not always a good thing) and believes absolutely that human beings are worthless earth ruiners most of whom simply cannot communicate. As is true for so many misanthropic authors, Franzen's characters are full of hatred - e Strong Motion is a thoroughly flawed book, but enjoyable nonetheless. It tries so hard to be something different, and occasionally succeeds. Like other Franzen novels - and for the moment, I have read them all - it bounces crazily from idea to idea, pivots on a dime (which is not always a good thing) and believes absolutely that human beings are worthless earth ruiners most of whom simply cannot communicate. As is true for so many misanthropic authors, Franzen's characters are full of hatred - even (especially) for loved ones. Why so much hate? Franzen, through his writing anyway, seems to be emotionally spastic, unable to control outbursts of deep feeling.

Franzen also engenders much hate, but haters might be surprised to find in Strong Motion plenty of feminist notions. Main character Renée Seitchek - I'd say she's the main character - is probably more a man's idea of a feminist hero than a woman's. But for 1992, for a writer who's antagonized so many women with his statements, the character he's created and the point of view he seems to have is worth contemplating especially for those who consider Franzen to be a sexist reprobate. Of course in the end Renée is not a woman but a fictional character sprung from the mind of a man, and it's a man's hopes for a woman that are pinned on her, not really a woman's.

What's overwhelming to me here especially, but in Freedom also, is how puppyish Franzen's notion of love is and how damaged and immature his boy-girl relationships tend to be. His characters do not often have adult relationships - I would go so far as to say Strong Motion is practically YA, in terms of the way the characters relate to one another. I will be interested to see if Purity continues the trend or bucks it.
Ruth Schofield
One year after abandoning this book halfway through, I decided to give it another chance. The first time I found it to be dismal. Louis, the main character, was sullen and sarcastic. The other characters were selfish or neurotic. Everyone seemed to resent everyone else. I quit at page 199. On second reading I had the same impression, but the story took hold more strongly. As a series of unusual earthquakes hits the Boston area including Louis's "step-grandmother's" property, he happens to meet a One year after abandoning this book halfway through, I decided to give it another chance. The first time I found it to be dismal. Louis, the main character, was sullen and sarcastic. The other characters were selfish or neurotic. Everyone seemed to resent everyone else. I quit at page 199. On second reading I had the same impression, but the story took hold more strongly. As a series of unusual earthquakes hits the Boston area including Louis's "step-grandmother's" property, he happens to meet and become involved with a seismologist. The story develops from there, incorporating science, corporate intrigue, a fundamentalist Christian group, and the abortion debate, and works its way to a hopeful if not entirely satisfying ending. I appreciated Franzen's imagery, especially regarding nature and weather, and he did a nice job of picking up loose ends from the many strands that were interwoven. Still I think that it's expecting a lot from the reader if one can go through 200 pages before developing any sympathetic interest in the characters.

My previous review:

I must confess that I have read only the first 200 pages of this book. I picked it up, of course, because it was by Franzen, but it was one of those books that I continued reading out of a sense of duty (normally I persevere to the end, no matter what), and eventually I gave up. The characters irritated me, and although the premise of repeated earthqueakes on the east coast seemed intriguing, the plot was very slow. Other reviewers have referred to additional plot lines and unforseen developments, so perhaps I will give the book another try sometime.
Ryan
An interesting book. A lot of the trademark Franzen characteristics that made him one of the most popular writers in the country are seen throughout this book, and his depiction of America and its problems set against the backdrop of a series of bizarre earthquakes around Boston is excellent. But just as Franzen's brilliant style and introspection draw me in, his own genius and desire to show off that genius hurt the book at times. He writes one passage from the perspective of a raccoon and anot An interesting book. A lot of the trademark Franzen characteristics that made him one of the most popular writers in the country are seen throughout this book, and his depiction of America and its problems set against the backdrop of a series of bizarre earthquakes around Boston is excellent. But just as Franzen's brilliant style and introspection draw me in, his own genius and desire to show off that genius hurt the book at times. He writes one passage from the perspective of a raccoon and another from the perspective of a computer. And being that this is set in 1990, the computer passage, in addition to being bizarre, is also incredibly dated. Thankfully these sections are brief, but they are so distracting and so brutal to read that I had trouble getting back into the story.
When Franzen is writing about the Holland family (a clear early predecessor of the Berglunds from Freedom), Louis Holland's relationship with seismologist Renee Seitchek and the interesting twists and turns their story takes as they stumble upon a possible, horrifying explanation for the earthquakes, it is very good, even if there are a few extraneous threads of story that either don't fit or just don't capture my attention as much as the core (such as when Louis goes through a cliched case of "girl that he used to want coming back into his life just as he finds a new love").
I enjoyed this book and found it very interesting simply to see early Franzen at work and to be able to trace some of his evolution as a writer.
Derek
Not quite the unmitigated brilliance of The Corrections , Franzen's Strong Motion is an agreeable counterpart to his later work, an achievement in its own right, a crystal-clear indicator of his accomplishments-to-be.

What surprised me the most here is that it actually gets better in its latter sections, and not just because I cared more about the characters as it moved along; I think the closing chapters are simply better-written than the early ones. How Franzen makes dilatory digressions as in Not quite the unmitigated brilliance of The Corrections , Franzen's Strong Motion is an agreeable counterpart to his later work, an achievement in its own right, a crystal-clear indicator of his accomplishments-to-be.

What surprised me the most here is that it actually gets better in its latter sections, and not just because I cared more about the characters as it moved along; I think the closing chapters are simply better-written than the early ones. How Franzen makes dilatory digressions as interesting as he does---his long sections of moralizing, or stating "the way things are" for Americans or the wealthy or women or whatever subject it is that he's going on about---is a feat worthy of admiration. And he seems to allow himself more of these digressions as the plot moves along, perhaps because there's more happening in the story, too. They're the two sides to the same coin, and a worthy lesson to anyone writing fiction: if you want to get away with that type of writing, you need to buoy it with some swift plotting as well. Franzen, of course, makes it look effortless. (T. C. Boyle could take a fucking hint.)

It's imperfect, of course, but I like its imperfections. He probably should've let an editor pare this down a bit, and this one's unlikely to convince those readers who are predisposed to dislike his brand of fiction. But for those of us already on the bandwagon, the pleasures of Strong Motion are many.
Krysten
Wow, this took a shockingly long time to read.

As interested as I am in the science behind earthquakes (seriously) I felt like, for a novel, this book focused too much on seismological theory. It explained in too much detail the processes by which this chemical company may or may not have induced earthquakes in the Boston area. Characters throughout the novel are not as detailed as the geophysical stuff Franzen (who obviously did a lot of research) presents. I get earthquakes as a metaphor. I do. Wow, this took a shockingly long time to read.

As interested as I am in the science behind earthquakes (seriously) I felt like, for a novel, this book focused too much on seismological theory. It explained in too much detail the processes by which this chemical company may or may not have induced earthquakes in the Boston area. Characters throughout the novel are not as detailed as the geophysical stuff Franzen (who obviously did a lot of research) presents. I get earthquakes as a metaphor. I do. I just don't think it was done in a particularly interesting way in this book.

What was interesting was the intersecting storyline about crazy pro-lifers and the seismologist who had multiple run-ins with them.

As a whole the book seemed a little unfocused and never seemed to go where you'd expect, though maybe that's the genius of its conceit. Insert geophysical metaphor here.

I won't lie, I definitely blinked back a few tears at the ending, but in truth I don't think those tears were of sorrow or joy. I think they were tears of mystification, of feeling slightly robbed, of wanting more loose ends tied up, of wanting.. just.. more.

A few absolutely brilliant passages have been duly posted to my Tumblr, but other than that, my feelings toward Strong Motion aren't really all that strong. I'm glad I read Franzen's more famous stuff first; if this had been my first foray into his work, I might never have given The Corrections or Freedom a chance.
Lori
Oh dear. I read Franzen backwards. I read The Corrections several years ago and thought it was utterly brilliant and completely satisfying. Yes, the characters were often abrasive, but they were also deeply human and, I thought, understandable. they were so very carefully drawn. His writing was well crafted, even when it was a little over the top.

Then this... well, in the end, it redeemed itself, but only just! Such distasteful characters, such unhinged animosity and chronic bad behavior! These Oh dear. I read Franzen backwards. I read The Corrections several years ago and thought it was utterly brilliant and completely satisfying. Yes, the characters were often abrasive, but they were also deeply human and, I thought, understandable. they were so very carefully drawn. His writing was well crafted, even when it was a little over the top.

Then this... well, in the end, it redeemed itself, but only just! Such distasteful characters, such unhinged animosity and chronic bad behavior! These characters were mostly despicable for the vast majority of the book. Then finally he turned it all around and we got to see a little tenderness and love, and, ultimately, some acceptance. Okay. Whew!

But for my taste it was a little too little a little too late. I had no problem with the plot -- and thought it was fairly believable -- but the characters seemed so repulsive for so much of the book that I'm not sure it was really worth the time I put into it. Still, there were scenes of utter brilliance here, too. I'm thinking of the scene with the EPA administrator. Considering she was only in two scenes in the book and that she's one of the characters I can still see and hear most clearly, I think tells you something about what an able writer Franzen is. Now on to The 27th City, one of those rare books I truly regret reading....
Victor Carson
For some reason, this novel was published or republished in 2014 but was originally copyrighted and published in the 1990's. Some flashes of Franzen's later style shine through this book but much of the story should have been heavily edited. The book follows a young man working at a Boston radio station, who loses his job when a religious, antiabortion group buys the company. Through his mother, however, he meets a somewhat older woman - a seismologists at Harvard. Together they try to prove tha For some reason, this novel was published or republished in 2014 but was originally copyrighted and published in the 1990's. Some flashes of Franzen's later style shine through this book but much of the story should have been heavily edited. The book follows a young man working at a Boston radio station, who loses his job when a religious, antiabortion group buys the company. Through his mother, however, he meets a somewhat older woman - a seismologists at Harvard. Together they try to prove that a prominent industrial company near Boston is the cause of a cluster of earthquakes. The relationships between the boy and his mother, and between him and his sister, and between him and his girlfriend are just too involved and too closely examined for my taste. The most insignificant arguments are described in boring detail. I thought the book was over about 2/3rds of the way through the story (I was listening to the audio-book). If I hadn't already reached that point, I might have abandoned the effort. I recommend Franzen's more recent books. The bright flashes of talent are too far apart in Strong Motion.
Angel
My new favorite Franzen novel. In fact, I have no problem declaring it a new all-time fave. I was riveted. As a geology buff, I was thrilled with all the earthquake science interwoven throughout. A compelling narrative, sumptuous detail, deftly conveyed with wit and heart, it's a tale of the disastrous consequences of corporate greed and a coming-of-age of a young man, as he tries to figure out his values in regards to career and romance.
I had low expectations going into this, knowing it wasn't My new favorite Franzen novel. In fact, I have no problem declaring it a new all-time fave. I was riveted. As a geology buff, I was thrilled with all the earthquake science interwoven throughout. A compelling narrative, sumptuous detail, deftly conveyed with wit and heart, it's a tale of the disastrous consequences of corporate greed and a coming-of-age of a young man, as he tries to figure out his values in regards to career and romance.
I had low expectations going into this, knowing it wasn't one of Franzen's big hit novels and became pleasantly alarmed as I read on, stunned at the quality, how engrossing it was. I can understand, though, why this may have been difficult for the public at large to digest. The story involves an abortion debate and a 'science versus religion' thread, all coming from a left-of-center angle, which I can get behind wholeheartedly. So if you're a moderate/right-of-center type, you may have a tough time with this novel. All the rest of you, get thee to a bookstore/the store pronto!
Peter
There's remorse in finishing a good book, and remorse of a particular kind in finishing something written by Jonathan Franzen. His unclouded view of the world is delivered in prose so sharp the truths can't be shed or eluded, and so you're left with a double dose of longing and vague, lovely sorrow.

Franzen feels like a remarkable writer the way that Picasso was a remarkable painter, so fundamentally skilled there must exist early exercises effortlessly mimicking Hemingway or Dickens, inroads to There's remorse in finishing a good book, and remorse of a particular kind in finishing something written by Jonathan Franzen. His unclouded view of the world is delivered in prose so sharp the truths can't be shed or eluded, and so you're left with a double dose of longing and vague, lovely sorrow.

Franzen feels like a remarkable writer the way that Picasso was a remarkable painter, so fundamentally skilled there must exist early exercises effortlessly mimicking Hemingway or Dickens, inroads to his own voice. And though his prose can get the claws in, the real draw is his ability to manifest the damaged hearts and humming minds of his characters; characters built of flaws and failings, their positive attributes left mostly unremarked.

Franzen's is a stark world to inhabit, and not for everyone, but it is true and powerful. And while his tendency to sermonize can be exhausting, he is never far from examining the things that make being a human being (at least occasionally) interesting.
Evan Kirby
Takes awhile to get where it wants to go and achieve what it wants to say, and thus it's marginally worth it in the end. Jonathan Franzen's gotta be one of the creepiest writers of all time. I can't tell you how many screenshots I took on my phone when reading this of some of the weirdest most unnecessary depictions of sex and human body parts/functions. It ties into what I've said previously where Franzen is so stuck in trying to SHOW you how good a writer he is by describing simple things in v Takes awhile to get where it wants to go and achieve what it wants to say, and thus it's marginally worth it in the end. Jonathan Franzen's gotta be one of the creepiest writers of all time. I can't tell you how many screenshots I took on my phone when reading this of some of the weirdest most unnecessary depictions of sex and human body parts/functions. It ties into what I've said previously where Franzen is so stuck in trying to SHOW you how good a writer he is by describing simple things in vast over-exaggerated metaphors that come off so painfully try-hard. I love the irony that what he thinks makes him such a great writer does the exact opposite and makes him dreadfully trite. There's a lot of good stuff in here, especially the drawing of characters, that's why it makes it even more worse when I gotta shake my head every few pages just because he feels the need to muse about a character "putting semen in the hollow of a pelvis" or comparing breasts to scones or some other weird thing.
Adam
Alright. Generally, I love books when they have a unique narrative style/sense of prose and very strong characters. One or the other will do in a pinch. Franzen's characters are strong here, particularly Louis and Renee, but they don't matter except for the first of four books and the last ten or so pages. His decision to show a post-modern streak and suddenly write about the origins of Boston in the context of the family, and other little delves into the unnecessary, are unnecessary and come of Alright. Generally, I love books when they have a unique narrative style/sense of prose and very strong characters. One or the other will do in a pinch. Franzen's characters are strong here, particularly Louis and Renee, but they don't matter except for the first of four books and the last ten or so pages. His decision to show a post-modern streak and suddenly write about the origins of Boston in the context of the family, and other little delves into the unnecessary, are unnecessary and come off as such. Instead of keeping to the romantic plot (which wasn't too cheesy, i guess) and focusing on/expanding on the complex and realistic characters, the book becomes a moralist/environmentalist tract about how you ought to think about abortion and the way corporations treat the earth. Oh, right, and I guess he has to come up with a conclusion towards the end so that you don't hate it. Which I don't. Ah well.
Rob
Having read all of Franzen's other books, I decided to step back in time to complete the set with this, his second novel...and very good it is too save for the odd turn where a character behaves illogically, forcing the reader to exlaim 'NO!' The premise is a good one - tales of corporate skulduggery mixed with the fascinating field of seismology and Franzen's has done his homework via some Moby Dick style detail. The book differs from its successors in format with most of the characters appea Having read all of Franzen's other books, I decided to step back in time to complete the set with this, his second novel...and very good it is too save for the odd turn where a character behaves illogically, forcing the reader to exlaim 'NO!' The premise is a good one - tales of corporate skulduggery mixed with the fascinating field of seismology and Franzen's has done his homework via some Moby Dick style detail. The book differs from its successors in format with most of the characters appearing throughout rather than disappearing as the writer explores a parallel strand of the story for 150 pages or so.

Interestingly perhaps,I came to the conclusion after reading the book that the author's most famous novel The Corrections may actually be his least impressive. I remember the hype in advance of its release - but that publicity will have been propelled by the excellence of Strong Motion .
John
I would have loves to give this book 5 stars (like I have for all of JF's books so far). Sadly I can't. I loved the book, the vile characters, the earthquake scenes, the subtle connections between radio, baseball, racoons and life. That's just the icing. The best part may have been Franzen's chapter on Eileen in Europe. He releases some stored up Gaddis-like anger at the American upper middle class college kids. For those of you who have been to the website stuff white people like; those are his I would have loves to give this book 5 stars (like I have for all of JF's books so far). Sadly I can't. I loved the book, the vile characters, the earthquake scenes, the subtle connections between radio, baseball, racoons and life. That's just the icing. The best part may have been Franzen's chapter on Eileen in Europe. He releases some stored up Gaddis-like anger at the American upper middle class college kids. For those of you who have been to the website stuff white people like; those are his targets. The expresso drinking, self pitying, Ray ban wearing and euro-travelling spoiled kids of America. So really I had one issue: the ending. I felt incomplete. It felt like a show I liked was cancelled and the finale was a forever unresolved cliff hanger. Also just a little tiny footnote, it was alot like J.R. or the Great Gatsby.
Andrew
Probably my least favorite of Franzen's novels. Yet again his female characters are flat and stereotypical, lacking any realistic balance of characteristics. Add to this that all of the characters in this book seem to have personality disorders... flat to the point that their characteristics are over-exaggerated... I had a hard time with relating to any of the characters. I can read a book whose characters I don't like, but these characters had nothing to relate to.

But, also as usual, his prose Probably my least favorite of Franzen's novels. Yet again his female characters are flat and stereotypical, lacking any realistic balance of characteristics. Add to this that all of the characters in this book seem to have personality disorders... flat to the point that their characteristics are over-exaggerated... I had a hard time with relating to any of the characters. I can read a book whose characters I don't like, but these characters had nothing to relate to.

But, also as usual, his prose was engaging and interesting. The underlying story line did a fairly good job of driving the novel. I'm not so shy about putting a book down these days, and I managed to stay interested in this book enough to finish it while on vacation.

Overall, worth a read if you're really into Franzen, but definitely the bottom of the pile of Franzen novels.
Crystal
As a huge Jonathan Franzen fan, I was disappointed the first five times I tried to read this book. If a book doesn't grab me in the first 100 pages, then forget it. But thankfully I kept trying, and I went to the Dominican Republic and sat by the pool for a week. So it took him 155 pages to get me hooked this time, but was I ever hooked. After page 200, this book never left my side. He brings the whole book together nicely, and as interconnected as all the characters are, it never seems forced. As a huge Jonathan Franzen fan, I was disappointed the first five times I tried to read this book. If a book doesn't grab me in the first 100 pages, then forget it. But thankfully I kept trying, and I went to the Dominican Republic and sat by the pool for a week. So it took him 155 pages to get me hooked this time, but was I ever hooked. After page 200, this book never left my side. He brings the whole book together nicely, and as interconnected as all the characters are, it never seems forced. His talent for sentence structure is amazing, but he does get a little long and involved at times, but hey, who doesn't love some good adjectives. Franzen puts you into the scene, rooting for the abnormal underdog, who doesn't seem abnormal or an underdog at all.
Kevin Tole
Frantzen was recommended to me by an American mate so I started with this. I have to say I am not that impressed and far from standing out as a comntemporary writer up there with the best of American writers it comes across as yet another East Coast wannabe with all the trappings of American pseudo-intellectualism. Rarely do I feel let down by a book but I did with this one (as also with Pharmacon). I wonder if its because both writers are writing outside of their knowledge. Anyway those of a ge Frantzen was recommended to me by an American mate so I started with this. I have to say I am not that impressed and far from standing out as a comntemporary writer up there with the best of American writers it comes across as yet another East Coast wannabe with all the trappings of American pseudo-intellectualism. Rarely do I feel let down by a book but I did with this one (as also with Pharmacon). I wonder if its because both writers are writing outside of their knowledge. Anyway those of a geological bent will get something a bit more out of the book but its more about the relationship that developes between the two main characters. It just never really rreaches the pitch that you expect it to and as I said I was left feeling short changed.
Janel Tortorice
It was okay. Really hard to figure out the time period, which bugged me constantly.
Alissa
Early nineties, twenty-something moves to Boston to work for failing radio station, redevelops relationship with MBA student sister who has always ignored him. Freak earthquakes start plaguing the area, killing his grandmother. Battles over inheritance, consisting of stock in company that seems to be responsible for earthquakes ensue. Guy falls in love with seismologist that uncovers the story behind the earthquakes.

More of a thriller than The Corrections, but I liked it more. I'm not sure that' Early nineties, twenty-something moves to Boston to work for failing radio station, redevelops relationship with MBA student sister who has always ignored him. Freak earthquakes start plaguing the area, killing his grandmother. Battles over inheritance, consisting of stock in company that seems to be responsible for earthquakes ensue. Guy falls in love with seismologist that uncovers the story behind the earthquakes.

More of a thriller than The Corrections, but I liked it more. I'm not sure that's the reason I couldn't put it down. I just love Franzen's writing. He writes the most eloquent descriptions of human emotions and tendencies that are so ugly and naked they make you love the characters for their faults.
M.
I absolutely loved "The Corrections" and "Freedom", I liked "The Discomfort Zone" so my expectations were set high. However, to my astonishment after 100 pages not only I wasn't engrossed in the book but I found it trite and boring. I couldn't believe this was my favourite author! After 200 pages I was seriously considering giving up on the book and reading something else. But then something happened - bland characters got involved in an exciting intrigue. Franzen's writing style became less dis I absolutely loved "The Corrections" and "Freedom", I liked "The Discomfort Zone" so my expectations were set high. However, to my astonishment after 100 pages not only I wasn't engrossed in the book but I found it trite and boring. I couldn't believe this was my favourite author! After 200 pages I was seriously considering giving up on the book and reading something else. But then something happened - bland characters got involved in an exciting intrigue. Franzen's writing style became less disjointed and more riveting. As a result I carried on reading and I don't regret. It's a decent book despite its feeble beginnings but I am glad to see the difference between Franzen A.D. 1992 and A.D. 2012.
Angie
Jonathan Franzen does not write simple stories. This is the third novel of his I have read (loved 'The Corrections' and 'Freedom'). This is mainly the story of 23-year-old Louis Holland who lives in Boston. He comes from a dysfunctional family. He falls in love with a seismologist Renee Seitchek. That same year Boston is hit with several earthquakes and they may have been caused by the Sweeting-Aldren chemical company which was started by Louis' grandfather. Franzen tackles many subjects, such a Jonathan Franzen does not write simple stories. This is the third novel of his I have read (loved 'The Corrections' and 'Freedom'). This is mainly the story of 23-year-old Louis Holland who lives in Boston. He comes from a dysfunctional family. He falls in love with a seismologist Renee Seitchek. That same year Boston is hit with several earthquakes and they may have been caused by the Sweeting-Aldren chemical company which was started by Louis' grandfather. Franzen tackles many subjects, such as abortion, Christianity, right to life, women's rights, environmental destruction, American history, the science of earthquakes, love - just to name a few! It is a long and dense novel and it is ultimately very satisfying.
Jim
As with other Franzen books, this one goes into great detail in developing the characters, and they are all quite unique and their actions are consistent with their characters. There is also a lot of detailed and imaginative descriptions of scenes, sights and sounds and smells. In terms of a story line, it is like his other books where it is sort of multiple story lines interweaved together, with no real beginning or middle or end. Just interrelated. I suppose that is how life is for real, but I As with other Franzen books, this one goes into great detail in developing the characters, and they are all quite unique and their actions are consistent with their characters. There is also a lot of detailed and imaginative descriptions of scenes, sights and sounds and smells. In terms of a story line, it is like his other books where it is sort of multiple story lines interweaved together, with no real beginning or middle or end. Just interrelated. I suppose that is how life is for real, but I found myself getting tired of it. At times I simply lost interest and stopped reading for a while. Only because of airplane time to fill did I finish it. The author is a great craftsman, but this one is a bit tiresome so only 3 stars.
Luca Masotto
I loved The corrections and found Freedom almost as enjoyable as the former. JF iz one of fhe authors I like most, so I was expecting so much out of Strong Motion that it sort of disappointed me.
Don't get me wrong here: the usual JF archetypes are there, the same ugly/lovely characters can still be found (Louis, René), but it seems there is something missing, the cause/effect of relationships, somyou may not understand why somebody is hating somebody else or similar things.
So a step behind becau I loved The corrections and found Freedom almost as enjoyable as the former. JF iz one of fhe authors I like most, so I was expecting so much out of Strong Motion that it sort of disappointed me.
Don't get me wrong here: the usual JF archetypes are there, the same ugly/lovely characters can still be found (Louis, René), but it seems there is something missing, the cause/effect of relationships, somyou may not understand why somebody is hating somebody else or similar things.
So a step behind because of lack of depth.
Plus, it is not (just) a family portrait, but a thriller too, with environment, political and religious issues.
Tough & enjoyable, but I would not recommend it as JF first reading.
Concha Marcos
Franzen nos reserva una increible historia donde los terremotos reales se entremezclan con los terremotos del alma y de ahí el nombre de movimiento fuerte....
La increible historia de Louis Holland y su simple pero a la vez complilcada y sufrida vida nos va descubriendo una serie de personajes, situaciones y caracteres únicos pero todos con un denominador común son humanos antes de nada con todo lo que esto conlleva, son mezquinos, viles, corruptos, ambiciosos pero también buenos, honrados, hone Franzen nos reserva una increible historia donde los terremotos reales se entremezclan con los terremotos del alma y de ahí el nombre de movimiento fuerte....
La increible historia de Louis Holland y su simple pero a la vez complilcada y sufrida vida nos va descubriendo una serie de personajes, situaciones y caracteres únicos pero todos con un denominador común son humanos antes de nada con todo lo que esto conlleva, son mezquinos, viles, corruptos, ambiciosos pero también buenos, honrados, honestos pero sobre todo personas.
Franzen es un espectador agudo y cínico pero sobre todo veraz y nos coloca de frente a la vida.
Elizabeth
Well, I finished the book, but I didn't really enjoy it. Mr. Franzen wrote about so many little details that had absolutely nothing to do with the story. And he did this a lot. I was never pulled into the plot at all. The story felt like it was going to say something important and that it would go somewhere profound, but it never really got there. Then again it is ultimately a love story and that never holds my attention. I kept reading to see if there'd be some pay off, to which, in my opinion, Well, I finished the book, but I didn't really enjoy it. Mr. Franzen wrote about so many little details that had absolutely nothing to do with the story. And he did this a lot. I was never pulled into the plot at all. The story felt like it was going to say something important and that it would go somewhere profound, but it never really got there. Then again it is ultimately a love story and that never holds my attention. I kept reading to see if there'd be some pay off, to which, in my opinion, there wasn't. I have to give Jonathan Franzen some credit because I didn't abandon the book, but I can't recommend it.
Paul
This is early Franzen, before the Corrections and Freedom. It is just good enough to keep you reading, and just bad enough to make you want to stop. So, I finished. Some of the set pieces are worth the price of admission, but the plot is so foolish I can't help but believe the book would have been better without it. Spoilers? Sure. Imagine a series of earthquakes, in New England, no less, that turn out to have been caused by a greedy polluting chemical company. Imagine a pouty young man, imagine This is early Franzen, before the Corrections and Freedom. It is just good enough to keep you reading, and just bad enough to make you want to stop. So, I finished. Some of the set pieces are worth the price of admission, but the plot is so foolish I can't help but believe the book would have been better without it. Spoilers? Sure. Imagine a series of earthquakes, in New England, no less, that turn out to have been caused by a greedy polluting chemical company. Imagine a pouty young man, imagine an improbable lover, mix in a bunch of pro-life crazies, what could go wrong? Everything. Thank heavens Franzen has progressed.
Brian Swain
Strong Motion is Franzen's second novel, preceding the much more well-known The Corrections, etc. I enjoy his writing a great deal, though I wish he was a bit more adventurous in selecting the themes for his books. He seems utterly fixated on the dysfunctional family, and every novel he's written centers around one. I guess it qualifies as a universal theme though, since pretty much every person who's ever lived will concede that there is at least something dysfunctional about their own family. Strong Motion is Franzen's second novel, preceding the much more well-known The Corrections, etc. I enjoy his writing a great deal, though I wish he was a bit more adventurous in selecting the themes for his books. He seems utterly fixated on the dysfunctional family, and every novel he's written centers around one. I guess it qualifies as a universal theme though, since pretty much every person who's ever lived will concede that there is at least something dysfunctional about their own family. All this said, the characters are memorable and the story well paced. I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it highly.
Matt
Finishing this I felt like I do when I watch the film Magnolia, like I just consumed a wild, raw, ambitious, and yet ultimately flawed masterpiece. This is my first go around with Franzen (Delillo mixed with Wallace, maybe?), and I was quite impressed, though a stronger editor could've shaved off about 100 pages. The use of earthquakes throughout offers up a perfect metaphor for pretty much everything in this book, but especially for the number of dysfunctional, fragile and volatile relationship Finishing this I felt like I do when I watch the film Magnolia, like I just consumed a wild, raw, ambitious, and yet ultimately flawed masterpiece. This is my first go around with Franzen (Delillo mixed with Wallace, maybe?), and I was quite impressed, though a stronger editor could've shaved off about 100 pages. The use of earthquakes throughout offers up a perfect metaphor for pretty much everything in this book, but especially for the number of dysfunctional, fragile and volatile relationships on display here. I hope Louis and Renee can figure it all out...Extra props to the shitty Uptown Borders for letting me grab this one at 60% off.
Carol Kosse
I only recently learned that Franzen had written anything noteworthy before The Corrections. Ran right out and bought this as I'm such a fan of his later books. So glad I did! It isn't quite as perfect a novel as The Corrections - he is a little all over the place in style, as if he's testing out everything he had ever learned about writing, but Strong Motion certainly shows off Franzen's gift for getting into people's heads and it is a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking story. It mad I only recently learned that Franzen had written anything noteworthy before The Corrections. Ran right out and bought this as I'm such a fan of his later books. So glad I did! It isn't quite as perfect a novel as The Corrections - he is a little all over the place in style, as if he's testing out everything he had ever learned about writing, but Strong Motion certainly shows off Franzen's gift for getting into people's heads and it is a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking story. It made a wonderful beach read! Only getting 4 stars from me here because I know he surpassed this one later and I can't give The Corrections 6 stars!
Amy
I just finished this book and I think the prose is as masterful and poetic with the quirky juxtapositions that only Jonathan Frazen does so well. But I am completely confounded by the character of Louis - I could not relate to what he was supposed to be feeling -- mostly he seemed slightly depressed with the shallow, self-involved feelings that often accompany depression. Is that the point? He never feels anything very deeply? I didn't understand his motivations for leaving Renee for Lauren - he I just finished this book and I think the prose is as masterful and poetic with the quirky juxtapositions that only Jonathan Frazen does so well. But I am completely confounded by the character of Louis - I could not relate to what he was supposed to be feeling -- mostly he seemed slightly depressed with the shallow, self-involved feelings that often accompany depression. Is that the point? He never feels anything very deeply? I didn't understand his motivations for leaving Renee for Lauren - he seemed so passive and detached. Even at the end, his feelings for Renee seem inconstant and wavering. Is that the point of his personalty? or am I missing something?
Katherine
I have been meaning to read this book for a long time. The Corrections is one of my all time favorite novels - I think it is incredible - and so I went in wanting to like this. At times, I did; Franzen is a brilliant writer and has a way with observation and casting characters that I love. But this book is just too meandering to like very much - there were pages of description and pondering that simply did not need to be there and weren't even enjoyable to read. I think the only reason to read t I have been meaning to read this book for a long time. The Corrections is one of my all time favorite novels - I think it is incredible - and so I went in wanting to like this. At times, I did; Franzen is a brilliant writer and has a way with observation and casting characters that I love. But this book is just too meandering to like very much - there were pages of description and pondering that simply did not need to be there and weren't even enjoyable to read. I think the only reason to read this is for the occasional gems (the last 75 pages has many more of them than the middle 200) of good writing.
Jeremy
As an admirer of Franzen, I enjoyed this book. It kept me company on Amtrak this week. For Franzenites, it's a must-read, of course; but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to others, as it's clear that Franzen hit his stride--his ability to minor in social criticism and major in stories that deftly navigate the turbulence of interpersonal relationships in postmodern, American culture--with the following novel, The Corrections. I'm looking forward to reading his first work, The Twenty-Seventh Ci As an admirer of Franzen, I enjoyed this book. It kept me company on Amtrak this week. For Franzenites, it's a must-read, of course; but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to others, as it's clear that Franzen hit his stride--his ability to minor in social criticism and major in stories that deftly navigate the turbulence of interpersonal relationships in postmodern, American culture--with the following novel, The Corrections. I'm looking forward to reading his first work, The Twenty-Seventh City, and, while enjoying it, feeling for the beginning of a literary or thematic trajectory that developed through the 90s and 00s, resulting with Freedom.
Dylan
Everyone between the ages of 22 and 30 should read this book. I am blessed to have found this book at this time in my life. It is tremendous. It's on par with The Corrections, though admittedly very different. I don't really know what else to say except that I could talk about this book for hours and probably write a good deal about it if I had a little more free time right now. I'm thinking about just re-reading it, right now, but there's so much left to read I feel like I'd be committing some Everyone between the ages of 22 and 30 should read this book. I am blessed to have found this book at this time in my life. It is tremendous. It's on par with The Corrections, though admittedly very different. I don't really know what else to say except that I could talk about this book for hours and probably write a good deal about it if I had a little more free time right now. I'm thinking about just re-reading it, right now, but there's so much left to read I feel like I'd be committing some sort of crime. But believe me: this is a book worth reading and re-reading.
Lara Rose
Not sure it's completely justified, but I really loved this book. The passages about life in Cambridge and Somerville are just classic. And the passage about the racoon might be my all-time favorite.

I read Strong Motion before reading anything else by Franzen. For those of you who've read The Corrections... someone else summed it up perfectly by saying that in Strong Motion, Franzen is not mean yet, and also not funny yet. I'd add that he is not as self conscious an author, for better and for w Not sure it's completely justified, but I really loved this book. The passages about life in Cambridge and Somerville are just classic. And the passage about the racoon might be my all-time favorite.

I read Strong Motion before reading anything else by Franzen. For those of you who've read The Corrections... someone else summed it up perfectly by saying that in Strong Motion, Franzen is not mean yet, and also not funny yet. I'd add that he is not as self conscious an author, for better and for worse. This is a kinder book, but not one that you dwell on or could write a college essay about.
Tami
i am having such a hard time with this book. it's early franzen, and he is one of my faves. but... there are times when i wish he'd shut up and move on already, and other times when a little more explanation seems appropriate. i am following the characters and getting most of their motivations, but some finer points truly escape me. i don't get why renee is being this way to louis' mom. i am missing something.

note to me: i know it could be the timing of my reading this, what with my concentratio i am having such a hard time with this book. it's early franzen, and he is one of my faves. but... there are times when i wish he'd shut up and move on already, and other times when a little more explanation seems appropriate. i am following the characters and getting most of their motivations, but some finer points truly escape me. i don't get why renee is being this way to louis' mom. i am missing something.

note to me: i know it could be the timing of my reading this, what with my concentration all mucked up. keep going, i can always reread in the future

FINISHED. well written overall, it drew itself together more toward the ending. but not my favorite
Heather Dooley
I read this book while on my "Louisville vacation" from the radio station, not the purple-hair vacation but the eyebrow-piercing vacation. That was a good time. I remember waking early at Tabetha's, out of habit, lying on her couch all cozy and reading and listening to a plane going overhead. I remember thinking this book was the bee's knees at the time, and now it seems like it was an enjoyable read and nothing more, which is what all good fiction, as all good love, does. Also, I'm not sure it I read this book while on my "Louisville vacation" from the radio station, not the purple-hair vacation but the eyebrow-piercing vacation. That was a good time. I remember waking early at Tabetha's, out of habit, lying on her couch all cozy and reading and listening to a plane going overhead. I remember thinking this book was the bee's knees at the time, and now it seems like it was an enjoyable read and nothing more, which is what all good fiction, as all good love, does. Also, I'm not sure it was 2005. Could have been 2004, but probably not 2006.
Leave Feeback for Strong Motion
Useful Links