I just finished my exams so there’s plenty of time for reading now! The first book I decided to go for is American Pastoral. It had recently been turned into a film and the trailer look rather interesting. Well, I always prefer to read the book first, so here we go!
Swede Levov has the kind of life everybody dreams about: a successful business, a beautiful wife, a lovely daughter. However, everything is about to fall to pieces when Merry, his beloved little girl does something nobody would have expected: She planted a bomb and killed a man. Swede begins to question every step he took in his life – where did it go wrong?
To be honest, this novel was not quite what I expected. The actual plot of this book can be summarized in about 10 sentences without leaving anything out. Philip Roth’s novel is not plot driven, it’s a character study. We dive deep into Swede Levov’s soul, learn where he comes from, what he’s up to, why he decides the way he does. When his daughter plants the bomb and vanishes we still don’t have the focus on her. It’s all about the Swede, contemplating if the girl who did it is really his daughter.
Let this be a warning for you. Although American Pastoral had some interesting takes at some points, for the most part it was just dragging on. Especially the beginning almost made me quit the book! There are about 50 pages full of other people talking about the Swede before we even get close to the main character himself.
What really annoys me is when Philip Roth tries to make a point. Several times throughout the book I found myself thinking “I understand why he’s describing this, but it still bores me to death”. For example you get a very thorough inside in glove-making. Now I know more about gloves than I ever wanted to hear. That happened about 5 times…
So, although this book seems to be super popular, I have to say I didn’t enjoy it. There may be some interesting points but also many clichés and simply annoying and boring parts that will make you want to throw the novel out of the window.
I had wished for something more going on, for more inside in Merry’s mind.
Unfortunately I have to say this book annoyed me almost from the first page to the last. There are some topics that have potential to be interesting but ultimately Philip Roth loses himself in the thoughts of one man.
Did you read the book? Let me know in the comments what you think!