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 share our gender.
Franzen manages to be, in his own way, political without being overly forceful or preachy with his ideas, which to me is the best way to both get your point across and not take away from the very story one is attempting to write. I also appreciated his incredible characterization and the intricacies within the relationships between the characters. He manages to show us through a beautiful and engaging story that men and women are inherently the same once we can get past our biology, and my identifying with Louis greatly helped this along for me. In the end, the reader is left with a feeling that life is never simple no matter what we encounter along the way, but we have the power to simplify things within ourselves.
I would say my favorite aspect of this book is Franzen's ability to engage us. I have had trouble as of late remaining interested and passionate about writing in my jaded, post-English degree state, but Strong Motionallowed me to forget all that and remember there is such a thing as really good writing.
I am definitely looking forward to reading The Corrections because from what I have heard, it is even better!(less) (edit)