Reenie's Reviews > The Great American Novel

The Great American Novel by Philip Roth
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's review
Oct 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: america, baseball
Read from September 20 to October 05, 2012

So for the record, the answer to the obvious question: What American novel does the GAN most resemble?

- Pretty much anything by Thomas Pynchon.

Partly because it's farce, and satire, and hilariously ridiculous, but also generally what one might term (if one was feeling particularly archaic, or in need of alliteration) as a 'rollicking ride' - it has some of that same ability to make chaos into something that pulls you along with it even when you don't quite know why one thing turns into another that you get in Pynchon books (at least at the points when they're not dragging into their sidepool eddies of editable digressions).

So yes, I enjoyed this book a lot. But it should come with a warning, that it's really not worth reading unless you have a pretty decent handle on the history of baseball (just watch the Ken Burns documentary series, if you can stomach than many hours of baseball history). Or at least I don't think it can be, because there are both a lot of direct references to pieces of history, and set piece scenes that totally poke fun at some of them too.

Passing familiarity with Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness and other GAN candidated, etc etc would help too, of course. But really... you really won't get this without baseball. Of course, if you weren't that into baseball, you'd probably never even consider reading this either, so it all works out.

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