America the Idealized

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The American Dream. It’s common throughout much of American literature and culture, yet the dream depicted typically winds up a failed attempt at attaining the highly sought after American Dream rather than the idyllic version. American Pastoral by Philip Roth describes the Levov family’s struggle to maintain their dream.

Swede Levov is a man for whom life has been pretty generous in the fortune and luck it doles out. Swede is a gifted high school athlete, a trained Marine, married to a former Miss New Jersey, father to a loving daughter, and set to inherit his father’s successful Newark glove factory. But it his daughter, Merry, who will be the undoing of his luck when she bombs the local post office as a political action during her teenage years. After the deadly spectacle that his daughter commits, Swede’s perfect American life has been thrust out of orbit, his life wracked with a new sense of guilt and sorrow.

Abundant in details, most often gritty, to depict the complexities and perceptions of life in America as told from the different, yet still limited, experiences of one family. The narrative roamed quite a bit and seemed to move at a glacial pace as it provided vastly different takes on the same person and the situation with his daughter that seems to have defined his life, which throws doubt on the integrity of the information being provided and what constitutes the truth of the matter.

Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

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