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I have not been able to finish this book. The characters making no impact on me at all let alone the story line whatever it is. I will no doubt pick it up again the months ahead and maybe feel differently about it,
Although I am a big fan of Franzen, I found that this was not one of his better efforts. The plot was interesting enough, but just enough. It was not even as good as "Twenty-Seventh City," which I believe he published during the same period. It certainly did not live up to his more recent efforts such as "Purity." If you're a Franzen fan, it should round out your reading of his works. However, I don't recommend it for those unfamiliar or unimpressed with his writings.
I think I have read Franzen's books in the wrong order. Neglecting his first book (the "27th City", I haven't read it) "Strong Motion" came out in 1992, "Corrections" in 2002, "Freedom" in 2010. Naturally, Strong Motion is weaker than the last two "big" books of his. Renee Seitchek is the real hero of the book (of the same class of heroines as Lisbeth Salander " with the Dragoon Tattoo" ), and I wished she was around more in the book and the boy's (Louis Holland's) boring sister and mother a bit less. I think the book was overwritten, too long, and for my taste there was too much ideology in it (right to abortion, environmentalism, criticism of religious fanatism, etc.). All in all, it wasn't bad.
I came to Franzen late and the first book of his I read was The Corrections which I loved. So now I judge all his works based on this novel as I liked the Corrections even more than Freedom.
Strong Motion does not have the writing chops that compares to The Corrections. It's not a bad book but I was just expecting much more from it. It's a unique story that is very Franzen but the characters just didn't feel as complete like his later novels.
Editing down the narrative would have helped this interesting but weighty story. The plot line was obscured, the love story disappeared, and though they were picked up again, trimming another 30 pages would have - in this reader's opinion - tightened the story and kept the reader's interest at a much higher level. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading more from this author. The complexity of his thinking is unusual in this generation of authors.
I picked this up because of the authors ties to my hometown and the main character lived in two cities I’ve lived. Very coincidental. I’ve read other books by Franzen and it’s very much his style. The story is compelling enough but I’ve never quite liked his main characters.
I was expecting so much more. I read The Corrections a couple of years ago, which was, like, *life-changing*, and was in the mood for another Franzen book. I stumbled on this with a really quick search, and after what seemed like a decent start, I have to be honest - I really wasn't much into it. I ended up finishing the book, but only because of the guilt I felt over the time I'd already invested. Did I HATE it? No, not at all. The story seemed to have a potential that was just never fulfilled. The Boston references were cool, as someone who'd spent some time there. But otherwise, I wouldn't recommend this. Stick to Franzen's more recent stuff.
I hate Jonathan Franzen's characters. They're always so self-absorbed, whiny, paralyzed by self-analysis and introspection that it's hard for the reader to care about them or the plot! The characters in Strong Motion are no different; they have absolutely no redeeming traits which makes it almost impossible to continue reading this book. However, about 100 pages into the story, the threads of a plot appear, and the book becomes more interesting: the temblors in the Boston area are connected to a chemical company's injection well.
Even though the characters are distinctly annoying, their poisonous spewing of self-centered drivel seems to mirror the ugly poisoning of the environment by the chemical company. It's not a pretty picture. There's no redemption for the characters or for the planet, apparently.
Each page had so many ideas that it was impossible to put the book down. I say that because I was also bored with the story that was in there somewhere. It was hard not to admire the depth of knowledge, his turn of phrase. I have read all of Frazen's books and his development as a writer is clearly shown from this an early work to his latest.Both he and his editors figured out how not to overwrite. The read is worthwhile for the ideas he presents, the story eventually emerges a bit while he shows off his iintelligence.