A couple of weeks ago I posted about American Pastoral, Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I wanted to revisit it – I have been haunted by a passage that I hunted down. In it, The Swede, the All American protagonist, is remembering a series of brief essays that his daughter wrote when she was ten. The first question, “Why are we here?” she had answered by asking, “Why are apes here.” This did not please her teacher. Nor was the teacher pleased by the answer to the tenth question, “What is life.” Both The Swede and I found her answer, “Life is just a short period of time during which you are alive,” to be profound.
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