Friday, October 4, 2019

Philip Roth - American Pastoral

‘Swede’ Levov is living the American dream. He glides through life sustained by his devoted family, his demanding yet highly rewarding (and lucrative) business, his sporting prowess, his good looks. He is the embodiment of thriving, post-war America, land of liberty and hope.
Until the sunny day in 1968, when the Swede’s bountiful American luck deserts him.
The tragedy springs from devastatingly close to home. His adored daughter, Merry, has become a stranger to him, a fanatical teenager capable of an outlandishly savage act of political terrorism that plunges the Levov family into the political mayhem of sixties America, and drags them into the underbelly of a seemingly ascendant society.
Rendered powerless by the shocking turn of events, the Swede can only watch as his pastoral idyll is methodically torn apart.

Comment: I got this book at the library. Something could be said about impulsive decisions regarding picking books one isn't really that interested in reading but between the free availability, the easy access to a title that has been in the literary radar nevertheless and the notion no demands are expected in return, libraries are heaven and I still brought this with me.

In this book we have the story of ‘Swede’ Levov, a man who seems to embody the American dream of living in the 60s, where the spirit of a certain expectation of life propels many to be bold, to be liked, to be amazing. The main character seems to be all this, he is envied by many of his peers but one day everything changes because his daughter does something atrocious and puts the attention of everyone in his family.
From this on, the lives of several people are changed and Levov cannot really get back the control of his own life. The dream isn't that magical as everyone would think....

I DNF'd this book.
I suppose it did help it was not a book I paid for (isn't it interesting that when this happens, in general we tend to feel we have to read it to justify the money spent?) but I just didn't find any eagerness to go on.
It was one of my decisions for this year, to be more focused on reading appealing things, and that could mean not finishing books I was not enjoying. It's still a little complicated, and after nine months this is only my second DNF. I suppose it will do for an interesting post at the end of the reading year how this idea affected my grades... so far only two DNFs, just three excellent books and many average stuff in between.

Anyway, this book was not something I put aside just because. The story was a little confusing because I honestly didn't like the writing style. It was the biggest reason why I didn't feel like keeping up.
I know this author has won many awards, has gotten many accolades, has been seen as a great writer. I was mildly interested in one day reading something by him also because of it. However, his writing style was too confusing for me. He writes as if he were orally telling this and in person this might work if the speaker is gifted. We like ramblings and details and detracts from the main conversation because it gives speeches allure, it makes people feel they are being talked to and not just given an pre recorded text.
The problem for me is that in writing, this means we are reading about one subject, then the author/narrator follows another detail, then another and when I think of it, what are really discussing? The story gets lost so often I started to lose interest in what mattered.

I've read some reviews to understand a few details about the parts I read but didn't get to understand and about what happened after I stopped (around 43% I'd say).
Many have mentioned the supposed message behind this tale and the way the characters behaved. I can see why some of the scenes happened the way they did but it's incredible what can be lost when one fails to concentrate on what's on the page. I do feel a little bad I didn't see in this what so many others did but, well, that's why taste is different. The same things touch everyone differently.

All things considered, this was a fail for me.  I really couldn't get into the story because of the writing. I've read other labeled "literary" works similar to this one in genre I was not as affected by as with this one. But it was good to try, now I feel like I have a reason to avoid further things by him.
Grade: DNF

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