Friday, November 13, 2020

Review of American Pastoral by Philip Roth

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, History

Elaborate Description

The major theme appears to be quest to understand others, or rather, understanding how little we know about people we know, even those closest to us. What we see about others is a façade, not knowing the actual person. The façade makes us project our understanding of the person, even though the empirical fact may be quite the reverse. In irony, the little we understand others is itself a façade, as the undercurrent is the little we know about ourselves. The questions we ask or do not, reveal more of who we are then the person being asked.

The three parts of the book are referenced as Paradise. A fitting illusion to a sort of privileged life. But that illusion created a distance. A distance separating the understandings from the community and the world, from father and daughter, from who we project and are. This distance led to extreme action, with all the events asking why that extreme action took place. Many different potential reasons are provided, but that requires an understanding of the other people, making the reasons not credible.

The book is decently written, going from a biography of the question to a more autobiographical account. Roth imbued the story with all the sideline events that occurred from the past. Those events slowed down the story, in which it became a puzzle to understand why they were included. Some had an impact on the story, others seemed more of a rant. The transitions in the timeline were not always clear.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780099771814
Pages to read:   421
Publication:     1998
1st Edition:      1997
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           3