I really have never read Roth, so a year or two ago, I tried American Pastoral, under the impression that it is one of his best. It was a real effort to get through. The book's structure is very awkward, in my opinion. It starts out reasonably interesting with Zuckerman, but the opening turns out to be totally irrelevant. The story then turns to the Swede and is mostly deadly dull with much detail about making gloves. There were a few striking and memorable scenes, but overall, I pretty much hated it.
I also found it to be reactionary and full of hatred for the war protesters of the 1960's. Although I have never advocated violence, the narrow, dismissive, ugly tone was pretty offensive. If someone unfamiliar with the Sixties read this novel, they would believe that the Vietnam war protests were carried out by obnoxious poseurs and dumb clueless kids. The fact that most of the protests to the Vietnam War were peaceful is ignored. The horrors of the war the protester attempted to stop are ignored. What a right-wing jerk!
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