American Pastoral is my ninth Roth book and I found this one to be sad, compassionate, and horrifying. I am used to a Rothian character who grew up inAmerican Pastoral is my ninth Roth book and I found this one to be sad, compassionate, and horrifying. I am used to a Rothian character who grew up in North Jersey, is Jewish, and does some things he regrets with women. The Swede is almost Anti-Rothian in this regard. He tries to please all and self-sacrifices almost pathetical, escapes most of his Jewish roots as he mimics the upper echelon of WASPery, and whose sole focus becomes the horrific acts of his only daugther. Zuckerman (Roth's aging, impotent double) is obsessed with the Swede and sets out to rewrite his life, especially its "Fall" (the three books are called "Paradise Remembered, The Fall, and Paradise Lost).
What I found so touching about American Pastoral is that the main character tries to do all he can for others, and eventually becomes subsumed with ill-feeling towards all he loves. The black and white American life becomes a muddied back-stabber, and the thought processes that Roth outlines in the Swede's head as events unfold is staggeringly in its ability to ellicit alarms of "Oh my god this is what I am thinking..." At one point an emotionally destroyed Swede sits on his back porch and is overcome with claustrophobia about his "perfect" American life. He is overwhelmed with the feeling that as he sits on the back porch, watching the sun set too slow for comfort, that nothing will ever ever happen in his life again. ...more
Classic, but I have to say, at the risk of some Hitchiker's fan slipping a knife into my ribs, I liked the movie better. More complete (i.e. Douglas AClassic, but I have to say, at the risk of some Hitchiker's fan slipping a knife into my ribs, I liked the movie better. More complete (i.e. Douglas Adams didn't hand in the manuscript half-finished because he was 10 weeks over his deadline).
Bonus points for being a good supplement to Einstein: His Life and Universe. ...more
Read the first half in a coffee shop and the second half after lunch.
An incredible novel about a rural Irish boy growing up filled with intense ambivRead the first half in a coffee shop and the second half after lunch.
An incredible novel about a rural Irish boy growing up filled with intense ambivalence (emabarassnment, empathy, fear, hatred, love) about his manic-depressive father. Boy also filled with intense ambivalence about the priesthood; feels he should enter if only if he could kick that masturbation habit. Ambivalent about education; scores well enough to make it into school in Dublin but doesn't know if it is what he wants. Ambivalent. Dark. Etc.
Burned and banned when it was written. Obviously because no one in Ireland is ambivalent about anything.
I like to imagine an angry mother yelling out, "Gabriel Garcia Marquez" (just has so much rythymn) because this book just makes me love the crazinessI like to imagine an angry mother yelling out, "Gabriel Garcia Marquez" (just has so much rythymn) because this book just makes me love the craziness inherent in large extended families. If you like this one, definitely check out Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family.
Won the Nobel Prize for Best Supporting Actors. The book is full of interesting characters doing interesting things. They are all passionate, sad, lonely, in love, unable to love, succumb to heredity, try to break free of national and family bonds, become ghosts, angels, pigs, and live out 100 years in one house. So sad and so human.
Enjoy the rhythmn of the story-telling-a kind of "and then this happened, and then this happened,"-that refuses to waste time pounding in symbolism and metaphor, opting instead to just let it all unfold. Marquez said that he was mimicing his grandmother and the way she took magic as just a happenstance. Beautiful. ...more
**spoiler alert** One of Roth's funnier books. Kidding. I cannot tell you how depressed I was after finishing this short novel. The title was the kick**spoiler alert** One of Roth's funnier books. Kidding. I cannot tell you how depressed I was after finishing this short novel. The title was the kicker too; hauntingly reminds the reader of every human mortality and the tediousness of studying morality plays in high school.
This is a book about the betrayel of the body and is a morbid reminder that while you are the king of your consciousness, your body is something that can be wholly other, a ticking time bomb that one day that will end your short existence. Like I said, hiiiiilaaaarrriiiious!
Roth has always spent a good deal of time writing about physical issues: Sex and Death (our greatest preoccupations) (see Sabbath's Theater) and this book lands pretty hard on both. As Everyman's body ages, his taste in women reverses. Trying to stay young? The betrayel of the physical form is a very Rothian focus, spending time on the degeneration of the body--Zuckerman ages, and goes through prostrate cancer, which invariably takes him away from being a main character in his narratives. This is very apparent in the novels The Human Stain and American Pastoral where the subject is older men and Zuckerman reminds the reader of his ailments--while his preoccupation with own body ends (or perhaps he feels less after becoming impotent), his obsession with other peoples' begins (see the Swede, Coleman Silk)...
And now in Everyman we have the cold hard facts. A man's life lived out before us. He remains unnamed and dies a mundane death, unconscious during surgery. This is a hard book to read straight up, but put into the context of Roth's other novels, a definite powerful addition to the aging author's library....more
Hey main character, are you upset about something? Is nothing working out for you? AWWWWWW poor baby! Did you experience a personal loss that you founHey main character, are you upset about something? Is nothing working out for you? AWWWWWW poor baby! Did you experience a personal loss that you found painful? Oh no! You must be the first person ever to feel pain! I feeeeeel sooooooo baaaaaaaaad for you! Are you going to tell us what happened? Oh, you'd rather give it to us bit by bit to keep up the suspense? Ok, that works (pbbbbttttt). Do you find things in normal everyday life hard to take, Holden Caulfield? Do you want to share with us experiences of things you find to be incredible and sad? I know an AA group that would love to have you!
I really dispised this book. And by despised, I mean that I was utterly dissapointed because the premise seemed to have so much potential and I had heard a lot of good things about Eggers. But instead I found the book to be cliched and totally inundated with bad sentimentality.
I really like how the story is told through mounds of dialogue and I love the concept as well. In some ways, Doyle executes so well that he admits hisI really like how the story is told through mounds of dialogue and I love the concept as well. In some ways, Doyle executes so well that he admits his failures, mainly this is a book about music and as books go, its unfortunately pretty silent, made of paper, contains no musical instruments. However, to fix this, The Commitments was turned into a wonderful movie and I suggest to anyone who likes the book to rent it. ...more
After finishing this book, I had a hard time recounting anything that happened in it. Instead, I am left with a bundle of vague memories, of a mute boAfter finishing this book, I had a hard time recounting anything that happened in it. Instead, I am left with a bundle of vague memories, of a mute boy, a parrot with a secret and post-WWII London--and though that sounds like a lot, I have no idea, and nor did I then, what those things had to do with each other.
I was a big fan of Yiddish Policeman's Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and I made a mistake by letting The Final Solution be my first Chabon book. It almost turned me off to the whole gamut. Luckily, I didn't stop here because I am absolutely in love with his other work. There is something about Chabon's sense of mystery and magic that just can't be matched in contemporary fiction. ...more