Title: American Pastoral
Author: Roth, Philip
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company, New York
Publication Date: 1997
Edition: First Edition
Book Condition: F
D-j Condition: NF
Comments: D-j has subtle shelf wear.
Synopsis: American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American’s rise and fall – of a strong, confident master of social equilibrium overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. Seymour “Swede” Levov – a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father’s Newark glove factory – comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even the most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. With vigorous realism, Roth takes us back to the conflicts and violent transitions of the 1960s. This is a book about loving – and hating – America. It’s a book about wanting to belong – and refusing to belong – to America. It sets the desire for an American pastoral – a respectable life of space, calm, order, optimism, and achievement – against the indigenous American Berserk.
Review: 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 tranquility. 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.