Pavel's Reviews > American Pastoral

American Pastoral by Philip Roth
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's review
Sep 24, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: american
Read in October, 2009

Tone makes a book. When author has a courage to speak by himself, to be equal to himself in his writing - you just know that. Literary style is nothing, when author has no such style inside and just uses it as a handcraft. When a writer lets himself speak in writing, his characters may be fictional, but he, the writer will stay real. And that's a tone for me and this book has a tone, has a voice. It seems so close, it's like it scratches inside of me, even now when I finished the book.

The plot is simple, there almost nothing to spoil. It's a story of "Swede" Levov, jewish guy, who being a third generation of his jewish immigrant family managed to become real, good american guy. He is big, he is blonde, he is amazing at sports, he served in army, he runs successfull bussiness on his family glove factory, he is married with Miss New Jersey <--- W.A.S.P.

Everything in his life was pure and simple happiness, untill his daughter, 16years old stuttering leftie blows up local post office, protesting against Vietnam War. There will be some story turns in the book, but those are not the story.

The story is a destruction of a Swede's life, whole book is focused on his inner life, life of his spirit. It touches of course all the edgy subjects, related: jewish/catholic/protestant relationships, Electra complex, Vietnam War reflections on US society, trasfer of manufacturing overseas and how it influenced city life, BUT what really "American pastoral" is about is this person, Swede who tried to hide himself behind that shiny happy american shield and how life eventually got him.

I will be reading all P. Roth's books, I know that.
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Reading Progress

09/25 page 19
4.4% "Well, I've started this one, cause I kinda have a feeling I will like it a lot; "Rebecca" for TNBBC will go in after Pere Gorio is finished"
09/28 page 197
45.6% "Reading this book is like having sex, I have to hold myself to keep pleasure going. Seriously, I haven't had such reading delight in years."
09/29 page 245
56.71% "Scene on Swede's fabric!!!"
10/04 page 410
94.91% "russian sentences are longer so my copy in fact is about 520+ pages, not 423"
02/12 marked as: read
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