I would like to plant a tree that is fast growing, but not as brittle as a silver maple. Can you suggest something?
Most trees that grow fast (Tulip Poplars, Silver Maples) are going to be softer and weaker trees than slower growing trees like large oaks. From a hardwood standpoint (long lasting tree and relatively quick to grow), your best option would be a Pin Oak. The Pin Oak is probably the fastest growing and lowest maintenance hardwood tree.
You should also perhaps consider a medium growth tree like an Ash variety or a Harder Maple like the Red Sunset or Autumn Blaze Maple. Go to a local nursery where the staff is qualified to help direct you on this tree selection as well. You will need to consider light, water, disease and pest hardiness (for example, an ash is susceptible to Emerald Ash Borer) and how close the tree will be to the house.