Friday, March 09, 2007

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

I have never read a Roth novel and have always meant to try him. American Pastoral is the first in the Zuckerman trilogy. Nathan Zuckerman is a character/narrator that appears in a number of Roth novels besides the books in the trilogy. Zuckerman plays only a small part in this novel. He is really a plot device to introduce the main character and get the story moving.
This is the story of Swede Levov, a Jewish-American man from Newark, New Jersey (Roth's home town.) He is a tall, handsome man who was the star athlete of his High School. He joined the service, married a beauty queen, had a daughter, took over the family business and always tried to do the right thing. However, life is not kind to him. Something devastating happens in his family and breaks his heart. This is not an easy read. This is a dense, complicated, sometimes very verbose book and the story is gut-wrenching. However, it is brilliant. I can't wait to discuss it tonight at my bookgroup. It won the Pulitzer.


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