Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 1998Philip Roth presents a vivid portrait of an innocent man being swept away by a current of conflict and violence in his own backyard - a story that is as much about loving America as it is hating it. Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, and the prosperous heir 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 a most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall ... a strong, confident man, a master of social equilibrium, overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful living out life in rural Old Rimrock in his 170 year-old stone farmhouse with his pretty wife (his college sweetheart and Miss New Jersey of 1949) and his lively albeit precocious daughter, the apple of his eye ... that is until she grows up to become a revolutionary terrorist.
©1997 Philip Roth (P)1997 by Dove Audio, (P) 2014 by Phoenix Books
Audie Award Winner, Best Solo Narration by a Male, 1998
"One of Roth's most powerful novels ever...moving, generous and ambitious...a fiercely affecting work of art." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
"Dazzling...a wrenching, compassionate, intelligent novel...gorgeous." (Boston Globe)
"At once expansive and painstakingly detailed.... The pages of American Pastoral crackle with the electricity and zest of a first-rate mind at work." (San Francisco Chronicle)
Don't read this if you are prone to depression. The story, however, is lyrical in the way it is put together and performed.
I love Ron Silver's narration, but there was just too much anger and weird stuff in the story for me to continue listening. Though I certainly know him by reputation, this is the first Roth book I've 'read' so maybe they are all like this. If i had been actually reading it, I would have skipped ahead in parts but can't do that with my older-style ipod. Maybe someday I will go back to it.
Ron Silver's performance of Roths classic was captivating. Never before have I heard the voice of an authors ideas and intent so well delivered. I throughly enjoyed this book and only wish Mr Silver had lent his talent to other Roth novels.
If you enjoy slice of life novels, this one will not disappoint.
I don't often leave books unfinished, but I could not get through this one. I haven't read Roth since Portnoy's Complaint and I find that he still seems to invest women with an unrealistic amount of evil. As for the reader, I've always liked Ron Silver as an actor but found that he didn't enunciate clearly enough in this audiobook. I repeatedly had to backtrack to try and understand a word or phrase. Add to that the fact that one of the main characters has a stutter and it all adds up to an unpleasant listening experience. I read literary fiction almost exlusively, but for me Roth falls short of that category.
This novel is beautiul, lyrical, descriptive, and thoughtful; I will remember it forever. Its frequent digressions, flashbacks, and stream-of-thought musings would seem hard to translate to audio, but Ron Silver's narration is so subtle and nuanced and sensitive that I now can't imagine reading this novel without hearing his voice. A narrator who can convey subtle or contradictory emotions beautifully; he seems to really understand the novel's themes and communicates them rather than simply conveying the dialogue. Masterful and wonderful.
Philip Roth crafts the best sentence of any American novelist. This masterpiece unfolds a plot which continues to unfold and the characterization of the "Swede" and his family is fascinating. There are great details about glovemaking, about the decline of some of the towns in NJ, about marriage and parenthood, even grandparenthood. The story is dynamic and suspenseful.
This is a wonderful book and a canonical work of American literature. I was excited to re-read the book this time by listening to it, but the narration by Ron Silver is poor. His diction is lacking, his intonation are not right and his exaggerations take away from the book.
This book deserves better.
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