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Strong Motion

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,747 Ratings  ·  299 Reviews
A suspenseful, complex novel dealing with the issues of our day--environmental pollution, religious fundamentalism, abortion, and the threat of apocalypse. It is also a tender and fresh love story--a story of betrayal and redemption--from the author of The Twenty-Seventh City.
Hardcover, 508 pages
Published January 1st 1992 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 04, 2008 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember being seduced to the point of debility by The Corrections (blowing off social outings I was actually looking forward to; missing the Sporanos), which I still can't get over. Strong Motion just confirms that I have a real weakness for Franzen's writing, and also that in my mind he is a genius. Nobody's characters come alive for me the way his do. He just bloody nails it. People are so weird--"ordinary people"--there's no such thing. Everybody is so weird and their ridiculous quirks and ...more
Jul 20, 2008 Miriam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally made my way through this vast, amazing epic of a book. I know that I often say that I loved books here. But this one is different, for one thing, it convinced me that Jonathan Franzen is a prescient genius (something I was decidedly not in agreement with before I picked this up). The writing is so precise and dense, yet compelling and readable at the same time. The issues he tackles are huge (coming of age after college, love, commitment, the relationships between parents and their adu ...more
Jen Padgett Bohle
First, a caveat: Strong Motion is not The Corrections. It does not deliver the scintillating prose, caustic wit, and epic scope of Franzen's National Book Award winning later novel. It's an eccentric and lengthy book that, for better or worse, dons a variety of identities: suspense, romance, family melodrama, didactic political novel, bildungsroman, perhaps more. There are subplots and mere meanderings, but Franzen ties them all into the relationship between Louis Holland and Renee Seitchek, and ...more
Sep 08, 2015 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a deep,thoughtful and intelligent read and in places was reminiscent of Don Delillo's White Noise.Starts with Louis Holland(a pretty sad and pathetic young man)who falls for seismologist Renee Seitcheck when she is investigating a recent earthquake,where we go from here is sort of a industry/scientific thriller with a religious/pro life element thrown into the mix as well,sounds odd? but it somehow works,set in and around the Boston area every location is deeply accurate when descr ...more
Seeing as he has a new book coming out this fall, I figured I should polish off the last of Franzen's Fictions I hadn't read.

Franzen's first novel, The 27th city, was a large, unfocused, sprawling thing with the very occasionally beautiful sentence or passage to keep the reader going. It was, basically, a complete mess. Strong Motion is his first novel that actually functions as a novel. The narrative focus is sharper, the plotting a bit more developed, the characters a little bit better drawn,
Laura J. W.
Jan 18, 2014 Laura J. W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Although Strong Motion (1992) was not a critical or financial success, it is an early indication that Jonathan Franzen is a gifted writer in the stratum of literary fiction. He’s had the good fortune to have the support that allows him to focus on his work, not every writer has that luxury, but for certain, this doesn’t mean I think he goes through life unscathed — no one does. While reading, I could see the set up for the ambitious tome, The Corrections in between the pages of Strong Motion. I ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Francis Younghusband
Shelves: fiction
In Strong Motion, Franzen's second novel, new college graduate Louis Holland moves to Boston to work a minimum wage job at a radio station. An earthquake kills his step-grandmother, his mother inherits her $22 million estate, and Louis has a conflicted relationship with his older sister Eileen, who is very mean. Eileen's boyfriend's father works for an evil chemicals manufacturing company who has been pumping toxic waste deep into the earth, which a Harvard seismologist named Renee believes is c ...more
Aug 25, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading “Strong Motion” felt like having an exquisite meal with well aged wine. Franzen is a true master. His characters are complex and multidimensional drawing one’s attention towards themselves and this attention is constantly fuelled by building up expectations to discover yet another aspect of an individual. The author tells the story from different people’s perspectives delving into their past to shed some light on why they are what they are in the present, but he tends to do this in a ver ...more
Ned Mozier
Feb 13, 2014 Ned Mozier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tour de force of storytelling and unbelievably insights into technical matters. The inside and backstory about how corporations become corrupt rings true, and the human elements that shape it. Franzen is truly one of the greatest modern american novelists. Told from flawed but interesting protagonists about the excesses of industry with catastrophic consequences. I have only his latest now to read.

Mein Lieblingsroman des Jahres 2012 war Franzens "Die Korrekturen". Mein Lieblingsroman des Jahres 2013 war Franzens "Freiheit".

Wird Franzen auch im Jahr 2014 seinem Spitzenplatz auf meiner Bestenliste behaupten können?

Leider lautet meine Antwort dieses Mal: Nein!

Auch wenn das Genie immer wieder durchscheint, erreicht Franzen hier noch nicht die Virtuosität seiner späteren Werke. Aber hey, als "Schweres Beben" 1992 erschien, war Franzen gerademal 32 Jahre alt. Das soll ihm erstmal einer nachsch
Lisa Kim
Sep 29, 2013 Lisa Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't help thinking of the outrage over Franzen's recent Guardian essay as I finished this book a few days a ago. Those who are calling him an out of touch elitist for hating the internet should (re)visit this novel. For a book published over 20 years ago, it doesn't seem dated at all. Much of its themes are as fresh today. What we now call fracking is a guise for Franzen's fictional energy company to drill and dump and hide industrial waste. Abortion and the religious right's fierce war ag ...more
Jul 29, 2011 Seth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Earthquakes rock Boston as our protagonist, Louis Holland, navigates a cityscape seemingly brimming with all of the post-utopian angst that Franzen is purportedly famous for exposing: evil corporations destroying our environment in their relentless quest for wealth, pro-lifers picketing and protesting the abortion clinics that proliferate in the liberal northeast, egocentric ivy league elites sipping coffee in Cambridge and intellectualizing much of the above. Not to mention the secondary charac ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really, really loved this book, which is probably an understatement. For the first time, in a while, a writer verging on genius has managed to keep my attention and will for longer than say 5-10 minutes. This novel was written in 1992, before his first blockbuster novel The Corrections (which I have not read yet, surprisingly, and I am glad). I think I was so engaged because, in 1992, I was 23-24 years old myself, like Louis. So, of course, I related to him in many ways, even though we don't s ...more
Craig New
Mar 25, 2009 Craig New rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Franzen must have had some hellish experiences with human beings, because his characters are often some of the most despicable and frustrating people I have come across. Yet somehow you end up feeling something for them, which in my case invariably means a switch from almost pure hatred to one of sympathy.
The other contradiction with Franzen is his technical sensibilities. his attention to details is so minute at times that you almost feel like you're reading through a manual for a piec
Jun 01, 2015 Kristine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Αν είσαι φαν θα το συμπαθήσεις κ αυτό γιατί οι προτάσεις που μιλάνε κατευθείαν στην ψυχή σου είναι καταχωνιασμένες κ σε αυτό το βιβλίο του. Απλώς μου φάνηκε πιο λιγομίλητο από τα άλλα.Οι χαρακτήρες μου ήταν αφόρητα αντιπαθείς κ οι αντιδράσεις τους τόσο κοντά σε αντιδράσεις της οικογένειας μου που αν αγάπησα τόσο το Freedom επειδή δεν ταυτίστηκα με κανέναν χαρακτήρα τότε μπορώ να καταλάβω γιατί το Strong Motion που μου θύμισε το μισό μου σόι σε ηλιθιότητα παίρνει δύο αστεράκια.
Aug 14, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd written this review sooner, when the novel was fresher in my mind, but suffice to say I enjoyed the hell out of this book. It's more plot-driven than I've come to expect from Franzen, but the character building is just about as exceptional as it is in his later works. In fact, the characterization here may be even more interesting because when the perspective shifts midway through, we get almost a diametrically opposite view of one of our central characters. This got me asking who def ...more
Jason Alexander
Oct 24, 2015 Jason Alexander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The destruction that is wrought by Mother Nature is one thing, but a person's own self destructive nature is something else entirely.

A rare Boston earthquake is the true starting off point for this novel, from there we are exposed to all the flawed aspects of each of the characters and the complicated relationships with one another, as well as themselves. Much of this book is painfully masochistic, but people often self-sabotage when they are presented with the terrifyingly real possibility of
Mar 21, 2014 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Franzen is my favorite author. I had already read Freedom and The Corrections and thought they were both amazing. This earlier book is less amazing, but still very good. It may sound rather boring, but it really picks up pace towards the end and isn't difficult to read. Although Franzen makes his characters very flawed, they are still endearing. I liked Louis and Renee, the main characters in this book. I thought there could have been more development with some characters. For example, ...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
un Franzen postmoderno, o quasi

"E perché, con la scusa di essere genitori responsabili, state inculcando ai vostri figli lo stesso ethos del consumo, se i beni materiali non sono l'essenza dell'umanità: perché vi state assicurando che la loro vita sia ingombra di oggetti come la vostra, con doveri e paranoie e immissioni ed emissioni, così che l'unico scopo per cui avranno vissuto sarà quello di perpetuare il sistema, e l'unica ragione per cui moriranno sarà il fatto di essersi logorati."

Louis h
John Braine
Feb 19, 2015 John Braine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
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 ...more
Jessica Fishman
While I am always impressed w/ Franzen's intellect and skill, I grow increasingly tired of a cynicism in his characters that alternately makes me loathe them or feel that Franzen does. I appreciate his layered character development and a willingness to write characters that are 'messy,' giving voice to the less than saintly thoughts and choices we all make in our lives. Still, so many of Franzen's characters seem either deeply narcissistic and inherently miserable as people (usually the men) or ...more
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Oct 17, 2015 Nic rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm a huge fan of Freedom and The Corrections, so thought I'd dig deeper into Franzen's work. In this novel, you experience many of the qualities that make his work great - provocative descriptions, believable dialogue, the layering of social issues over the personal narrative that makes his work about something larger than a few characters' experience, and brave sex scenes. He is sometimes faulted with creating unsympathetic characters, and all of these were hard people to like. Once I set the ...more
Aug 28, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2015 TheLongWait rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
The Devil's in the details. That should be Franzen's motto, as he weaves in such minute specifics throughout the narrative that you could easily dismiss them if the weren't so fitting to the story as a whole. Strong Motion has a lot going on, and it doesn't quite gel as well as I'd hoped, but it's a strong novel, lusciously written and recommended for those who want to find out what's beyond The Corrections. A solid 4 stars, and Freedom to be read soon.
Chrystal Hays
Dec 03, 2014 Chrystal Hays rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Waiting for new books to arrive, I sometimes go back to the shelf of what I consider books from The Lost Year...the year after the big housefire that took my pets. During that time, I read things and now I have no memory of them. It was like my self was on autopilot while I worked through grief.

I was happily surprised to find this book there, and I can't really tell if maybe I never read it, or read and forgot, but either way, it's a good read.

Franzen has an uncanny way of pointing out human f
Oct 21, 2015 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark Speed
Following the review I did yesterday ( of The Twenty-Seventh City, it's time to look at Franzen's second novel.

Strong Motion is a much more mature novel. There's none of the sniping that I felt he did in his debut. The political intrigue is there, and somehow the sexual element is both richer and sadder as the protagonist falls for a slightly older woman. Critics said it was dense. Well, good for Franzen for not lightening the load on himself or the reader
Jan 23, 2015 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction; the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion; and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by FSG. His fourth novel, Freedom, was published in the fall of 2010.

Franzen's other honors include a 1988 Whiting Writers' Award, Granta's Best Of Young Ameri
More about Jonathan Franzen...

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“It took hours to turn the clock back 30 seconds.” 41 likes
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