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American Pastoral by Philip Roth

American Pastoral (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Philip Roth

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5,159108866 (3.96)153
Title:American Pastoral
Authors:Philip Roth
Info:Vintage (1998), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997)

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English (98)  Italian (3)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (107)
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
A book that had me paging back and forth, just to keep up with the plot. An indepth look into life in the sixties as well as the American Pastoral. A masterful pastiche of the glory and agony of the American experience. ( )
  charlie68 | Sep 11, 2014 |
Catalogues of things, places and emotions and long paragraphs and pages to explain how I should understand the milieu of the characters; just tell me what happens in a way that allows me to understand their emotions and how they interact socially with minimal authorial intrusion. Roth is a skilled writer and wordsmith, and he makes you feel good about yourself when you read him, but he uses too much ink and paper to get done what could be done, with equal or better effectiveness, in much less space. ( )
  DinoReader | Aug 21, 2014 |
This story is set in the late sixties and early seventies in Newark, New Jersey and reflects the social upheavals of the time. It is a framed story. The first chapters we are introduced to Zuckerman (author) and his admiration almost worship of the Swede, a high school athlete. At a reunion, in which Zuckerman is a speaker, he learns that Swede is deceased. Zuckerman, always curious about Swede begins to imagine the life that Swede lived as it was impacted by his daughter's decision to bomb the local post office. The rest of the book is this imagined story (which Zuckerman publishes) of Swede.

The story is accurate historically for the Newark riots of 1967, Watergate, the Deep Throat movie (the first x rated movie that we all flocked to see publicly) as well as the Black Panthers, Weathermen and Angela Davis. LBJ is president and the US is deeply invested in sending soldiers to Vietnam. The main character, Swede, is based on a real athlete that attended Weequahic High School. I really wondered if this school was made up. The "equa" in the middle made me think that the author was saying something about these Jewish kids attending school in the US. I do think there is more in this story than the historical events. It is a story of Jewish American who marries an Irish Catholic girl and the changes in the family from the grandparents who came to the US, sold gloves on the streets and finally established a factory business. The family erodes or changes from all Jewish, to the boys marrying Gentile Girls to the daughter who is not Jewish or Catholic and abandons all the family values and hates her family for having a profitable business.

The title American Pastoral, does it refer to the immigrant experience for the Jew who came to the US and found peace and the life without persecution? Towards the end, the author mentions Thanksgiving as the true American Pastoral. A time where everyone can come together whether they are Catholic, Jewish, or Gentile. Thanksgiving really is the best holiday. I liked this story. It was engaging and the characters are well developed. You forget that this is just Zuckerman's imaginations and that we really know very little about Swede or his daughter Merry. Compared to the other book by Roth that I've read, Plot Against America, I liked this much better. I will read more of Roth at some point. ( )
1 vote Kristelh | Jul 6, 2014 |
A specific and very context-sensitive tragedy that still manages to be credible and accessible today. You can feel Swede's effort to stay in control amid a battering ram of events. The retrospective structure amplifies and drives the story along and invites a re-read. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Jun 8, 2014 |
Philip Roth’s American Pastoral won the Pulitzer Prize for a reason. It is everything an intelligent historical fiction novel should be…plausible, fact-based, multi-layered, and empathetic, among other qualities. Spanning three generations of a New Jersey Jewish family, we see the assimilation of the glove-making, Levov, patriarch into American working middle class culture, and the perfect son who assumes the business, marries the beauty queen, and ascends into upper class society only to watch his radical ideologue daughter devolve into a domestic terrorist in the name of stopping the Vietnam war. Through the Levov’s rise and fall, Roth imparts to the reader that everyone’s life is always complex, sometimes messy, and absolutely subject to fate’s intervention. ( )
  lukespapa | May 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Rothprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drazdauskienė, Rasasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drazdauskienė, Rasasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pellar, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pellarová, LubaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dream when the day is thru, dream and they might come true, things never are as bad as they seem, so dream, dream, dream.
-Johnny Mercer from "Dream," popular song of the 1940s
the rare occurrence of the expected...
-William Carlos Williams, from "At Kenneth Bruke's Place," 1946
To J. G.
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The swede.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375701427, Paperback)

Philip Roth's 22nd book takes a life-long view of the American experience in this thoughtful investigation of the century's most divisive and explosive of decades, the '60s. Returning again to the voice of his literary alter ego Nathan Zuckerman, Roth is at the top of his form. His prose is carefully controlled yet always fresh and intellectually subtle as he reconstructs the halcyon days, circa World War II, of Seymour "the Swede" Levov, a high school sports hero and all-around Great Guy who wants nothing more than to live in tranquillity. But as the Swede grows older and America crazier, history sweeps his family inexorably into its grip: His own daughter, Merry, commits an unpardonable act of "protest" against the Vietnam war that ultimately severs the Swede from any hope of happiness, family, or spiritual coherence.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An ordinary man finds that his life has been made extraordinary by the catastrophic intrusion of history when, in 1968 his adored daughter plants a bomb that kills a stranger, hurling her father out of the longed-for American pastoral and into the ingenious American berserk.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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