Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel American Pastoral is a great and very emotionally difficult read. Roth uses his alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, to get the story going (and actually to tell the ending at the beginning – the frustrating, explosive ending of the book that left so little resolved became manageable for me only when I realized that the resolution of the story had already been offered – in the first twenty five pages or so when I was still trying to get oriented), but he abandons Zuckerman (thankfully – the man is an overly introspective and bitter guy) to take on the task of telling, in the first person, the story of Seymour “Swede” Levov – rhymes with love - a blond haired, blue eyed jewish grandson of immigrants who is gifted athletically, revered by his peers; and who chooses to walk away from professional baseball to take over the family’s glove making factory in Newark. He does not take over the family’s ethnic identity, however. He moves out to Old Rimrock, New Jersey – a bastion of WASPs in a pastoral setting, where he lives in a two hundred year old home, marries Miss New Jersey 1949, and settles into a bucolic existence.
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