First edition cover
|Cover artist||Jacket design by Paul Bacon|
|Publisher||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Media type||Print (Hardback and Paperback)|
|Pages||508 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||0-374-27105-4 (first edition, hardback)|
|LC Class||PS3556.R352 S7 1992|
Strong Motion was noted by reviewers for its impassioned social criticism, the thoroughness of its research, and its treatment of controversial themes such as abortion, feminism, corporate malfeasance, exploitative capitalism, etc.
Louis Holland arrives in Boston to find that a minor earthquake in Ipswich has killed his eccentric grandmother, triggering a struggle between him, his sister Eileen, and his mother Melanie over the disposition of a $22 million inheritance. During a visit to the beach, Louis meets Dr. Reneé Seitchek, a Harvard seismologist who believes she has discovered the cause of subsequent earthquakes in Peabody. Louis, Reneé, and the Hollands' affairs become entangled with the petrochemical and weapons company Sweeting-Aldren, as well as a pro-life activist commune called the Church of Action in Christ, headed by Reverend Philip Stites.
Reception to the book was mostly positive, with critics applauding its style, ambition, and riskiness; the New York Times described it as "the stuff of several books crammed into one long, dense narrative about contemporary urban America". Negative criticism focused on a perceived lack of focus, and an attempt to interweave too many plot threads—the LA Times noted that "Franzen writes beautifully for the most part, though sometimes to excess".
- Rubins, Josh (1992-02-16). "How Capitalism Causes Earthquakes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
- Eder, Richard (1992-02-02). "Shaky Town East". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
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