Rike's Reviews > American Pastoral

American Pastoral by Philip Roth
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's review
Jan 13, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: sanja2, regal

On the book cover, the Guardian recommends Roth's novel as "raging and elegiac". Indeed? Well, in the end it was I who felt raging and elegiac every time I picked up this book.

I must admit I was somewhat wary of the novel before I bought it because I had already disliked "Everyman" - but I convinced myself that "American Pastoral" couldn't be so bad. After all, it had won the Pulitzer Prize for its portrait of a seemingly perfect man, the "Swede", who loses the peace and happyness he once had when, incomprehensible to him, his daughter becomes a terrorist bomber and goes underground. A renowned prize, a compelling plot, the stage is set for Roth to win me back. But like the daughter in the book, Roth still manages to ruin it all.

The book basically consists of two parts that are quickly described. The first is a terribly irrelevant but still 115-page-long "intro" that describes how Zuckerman, the author of the rest of the story and of course an autobiographic copy of Roth (including surgery, page 28) wallows in regret about his long-gone youth. The second part then mainly consists of page-long, overly wordy and extremely redundant descriptions of either a) the Swede's agonizing about the reasons for his daughter's bad deeds, b) the complete life, job and family histories of the different persons the Swede knows at some point in his life, or c) the rants of the Swede's dad, who is, surprise surprise, an explicitly Jewish oldschool Jew from New Jersey.

In short, except another extensive portrait of Roth's own Jewish-daddy-issues, I got absolutely nothing out of this book and regret having wasted the time to read it.
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Reading Progress

January 13, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 23, 2011 – Finished Reading
September 19, 2013 – Shelved as: regal
September 19, 2013 – Shelved as: sanja2

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