Strong Motion. Jonathan Franzen.

Franzen, Jonathan. Strong Motion. Picador, 1992. F; 9/11.

I had been so delighted with his Freedom that I expected this to fall way short, and although it did fall short, it wasn’t by much.

The central metaphor is earthquakes, and the central character is a resolutely and successfully neutral kind of guy. True to the time it was written, the narrative involving earthquakes in and around Boston (the non-natural cause of which is suspected by our hero’s PhD seismology girlfriend) is packed with greedy industrialists polluting the world and anti-abortion fanatics trying to take it over.

But still the characters are affecting and the plot credible and quite gripping. It all gets seen through the eyes of the neutral protagonist, and there’s quite a lot of engaging analysis of family relationships, which is a bit of a Franzen trademark I think.

Good if not great stuff. 8.0/8.3

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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